NACES - Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Institute
Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Institute

Frequently Asked Questions
by Lexi Harlow, Physical Therapy, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance

Very important! The American Cancer Society recommends a physically active lifestyle, along with an appropriate weight and healthful diet, to prevent recurrence, second primary cancers, and other chronic diseases.1 Studies have shown that exercise improves cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, body composition, fatigue, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, happiness, and quality of life in cancer survivors.2Often, survivors tend to decrease their physical activity levels after being diagnosed with cancer and most continue lower levels of activity through treatment and beyond increasing their overall risk for a second cancer, obesity, diabetes, and/or heart disease.1 Most, if not all, cancer survivors would benefit from a consultation by a physical therapist to help develop a comprehensive exercise program. Physical therapists can make recommendations on the type, frequency, duration, and intensity of exercise. This exercise program should be individualized to your age, diagnosis, treatment, previous activity level, and other medical conditions. Physical therapists can evaluate specific needs in the following areas: strength, flexibility, cardiovascular re-training, scar tissue work after mastectomy/lumpectomy, fatigue, balance, incontinence and neuropathy disorder treatment and to teach lymphedema prevention and/or treatment education.

How can we help you start a safe exercise program?

The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance has physical therapists on staff with expertise in recommending specific exercise programs to cancer survivors with a wide variety of diagnoses and stages of treatment. If you are interested in meeting with a physical therapist at the SCCA, please discuss this further with your doctor, who can make a referral to our department. Survivors who are seen in the Survivorship Program's MOST Clinics can receive a comprehensive evaluation, which will include discussions of the benefits of exercise and any possible risks. We can also refer you to one of our physical therapists for a consultation. We look forward to helping you meet your physical fitness goals and enhancing your quality of life as a cancer survivor.

For more information on the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Survivorship Program, or to arrange an appointment for you, a friend or family member, call 1-866-543-4272; e-mail us We hope to hear from you soon.

1Doyle C, Kushi LH, Byers T, et al. Nutrition and Physical Activity During and After Cancer Treatment: An American Cancer Society Guide for Informed Choices. CA Cancer J Clin 2006; 56; 323-353. 2Courneya KS. Exercise in cancer survivors: an overview of research. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2003; 35: 1846-1852.

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