Strength After Breast Cancer
An evidence-based program for survivors
Due to excellent advances in screening, prevention, early diagnosis and medical treatment interventions, breast cancer survivors represent one of the largest groups amongst the 15.5 million survivors currently living in the US.1

One study examining prevalence of impairments in patients with breast cancer found 92% to have at least one physical impairment requiring rehabilitation management.2 One of the most feared complications of treatment for breast cancer is lymphedema. While incidence rates of lymphedema are also decreasing due to medical treatment advances, it is still a very real threat for many survivors.
Exercise provides multiple benefits to breast cancer survivors

An extensive body of research exists to demonstrate importance of exercise and physical activity on cancer prevention and recurrence, as well as for improving physical and psychological issues both during and after cancer treatment.3

Early education, recognition and intervention by specially-trained rehabilitation professionals can help mitigate the effects of lymphedema. Kathryn H. Schmitz, Ph.D, one of the world’s experts on exercise in cancer, performed two landmark studies known as the PAL trials (physical activity and lymphedema). These studies evaluated the effects of resistive exercise (weight training) in breast cancer survivors with lymphedema4and those at risk for lymphedema.5

In addition to proving that exercise is safe for breast cancer survivors, these studies demonstrated multiple benefits, including:
  • 50% reduction in lymphedema exacerbations
  • 70% reduction in the risk developing lymphedema for the highest risk patients – those with 5+ lymph nodes removed
  • A reduction in the decline in physical function
  • Improved energy, strength and body image as well as reduced body fat.
  • Exercise is safe in breast cancer survivors at risk for and with lymphedema.
ReVital and the Strength ABC Program

Key components of Dr. Schmitz’s research have been integrated into the ReVital program, including:

Early education, recognition and intervention by specially-trained rehabilitation professionals can help mitigate the effects of lymphedema. Kathryn H. Schmitz, Ph.D, one of the world’s experts on exercise in cancer, performed two landmark studies known as the PAL trials (physical activity and lymphedema). These studies evaluated the effects of resistive exercise (weight training) in breast cancer survivors with lymphedema4and those at risk for lymphedema.5 In addition to proving that exercise is safe for breast cancer survivors, these studies demonstrated multiple benefits, including:

  • Evaluation and education by a lymphedema specialist
  • Four supervised training sessions spread over 13 weeks to help ensure safe and effective exercise performance
  • An exercise program that involves stretching, strengthening and aerobic conditioning in accordance with the American College of Sport Medicine’s recommendations for exercise prescription for cancer survivors.6
  • A focus on slow and steady progression
  • Supervised visits that include evaluation for other functional issues which may require additional specialized therapy
To learn more about the Strength ABC program, download our Patient Instructional Packet.
ReVital is a Leader in Cancer Rehabilitation

We have a common goal—to improve your patients’ quality of life. As oncologists, your focus is on life-saving medical interventions. As cancer rehabilitation therapists, our focus is to support you and your patients by helping to restore their function and quality of life.

With cancer’s complex nature, a deep understanding of it and its various treatment interventions, as well as the potential adverse effects on the body, is required to achieve optimal physical and functional outcomes with cancer survivors. ReVital therapists are licensed and specially-trained in oncology rehabilitation. They understand the unique challenges patients face in undergoing cancer treatment. Our therapists have extensive clinical training certifications, developed in conjunction with some of the top researchers in the field of cancer rehabilitation. Additionally, the ReVital training program includes competencies designed to ensure the highest quality care and requires ongoing education to continue building therapists’ base of knowledge and skills that align with the most current research. Together we can partner to help all cancer survivors live well beyond cancer.
References

  1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Treatment & Survivorship Facts & Figures 2016-2017. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society; 2016-2017. Accessible at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research/documents/document/acspc-048074.pdf.
  2. Cheville AL, Troxel AB, Basford JR, Kornblith AB. Prevalence and treatment patterns of physical impairments in patients with metastatic breast cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2008; 26:2621-2629..
  3. Stout NL, Baima J, Swisher AK, Winters-Stone KM, et al. A Systematic Review of Exercise Systematic Reviews in the Cancer Literature (2005-2017). PM&R Journal. 2017; 9: S347-384.
  4. Schmitz K, Ahmed RL, Troxel A et al. Weight lifting in women with breast cancer-related lymphedema. New England Journal of Medicine. 2009; 361:664-673.
  5. Schmitz K. Balancing lymphedema risk: exercise versus deconditioning for breast cancer survivors. Exerc. Sport Sci Rev. 2010. Jan 38(1):17-24.
  6. Schmitz KH, Courneya KS, Matthews C, Demark-Wahnefried W, et. al. American College of Sports Medicine roundtable on exercise guidelines for cancer survivors. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Jul; 42(7): 1409-26.