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We know it sounds technical, but the principle is simple. Aerobic exercise – the kind that gets the heart thumping and the breath going – improves heart and lung function and has lots of benefits for cancer patients like reducing fatigue and insomnia and boosting overall wellbeing. There’s also evidence that better cardio-respiratory fitness leads to fewer post-operative complications and a shorter hospital stay.
Cancer and cancer treatment can lead to muscle weakness as a result of inactivity, poor nutrition and muscle breakdown. Sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass) is a serious risk factor in people with cancer. Muscle health impacts on people’s ability to tolerate cancer treatment, recover and more importantly it can affect quality of life.
Cancer surgery is known to cause muscle proteolysis (the need to redirect proteins from muscle and use them to facilitate the healing process). This can delay physical recovery.
Post-operative lung complications such as pneumonia are common after surgery for many types of cancer. Some people may also experience symptoms of breathlessness as a result of muscle weakness of the respiratory muscles and the diaphragm.
Respiratory exercises can improve symptoms of breathlessness and, if undertaken prior to and immediately after surgery, can minimize the risk of developing post-operative lung complications.
Many people diagnosed with cancer experience psychological or emotional distress at some stage.
In our experience, anxiety and distress experienced by cancer patients stems from a loss of control over their health, a lack of information and fear for the future. Effective emotional and psychological support leads to improved coping skills and enables people to feel more in control and enjoy a better quality of life. It can also prevent the risk of people developing depression and anxiety in the future.
Cancer and its treatments can affect the way you eat and the way in which your body uses nutrients. Nutritional optimisation is essential for improving tolerance to cancer treatment, reducing risk of postoperative malnutrition and complications, improving emotional health and quality of life and facilitating exercise to maintain muscle mass and improve strength.
Although BMI (Body Mass Index) and weight are often used in clinic settings as standard measures to assess changes in nutritional status, they don’t necessarily tell us about important factors known to be affected by nutrition, for example, lean body mass, fat mass, muscle function and bone mineral density. We incorporate full body composition analysis and hand grip strength into our assessments to provide a more accurate picture of a person’s nutritional status.
The way in which people live their lives can impact on physical and psychological health and it is important we consider these variables alongside other health behaviours.
Lifestyle factors affecting overall health include smoking, alcohol, stress, sleep, poor diet and sedentary behaviour.
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GP led medical and physical examination
Medication review and management
A comprehensive blood test including full blood count, haematinics, renal function, liver function, bone profile and micronutrient screen