I’m sure you are all aware that we are now in October but are you aware that October is breast cancer awareness month (BCAM), so the question is how “breast aware” are you?
There have been lots of stories in the press recently discussing this subject, not at least the news earlier in the year about Angelina Jolie’s preventative double mastectomy.
So you may ask: “what’s this got to do with physiotherapy?”
Well, the physiotherapy team at the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth see all patients who undergo mastectomy or reconstructive breast surgery to ensure that they fully regain the movement and function of their arm, as breast surgery often extends into the axilla (armpit). We prescribe a programme of arm exercises, give advice on posture and functional activities, as well as supporting our patients on returning to exercise after surgery and cancer treatment. (See our previous blog on cancer and exercise – Aug 2011). Research has shown that early mobilisation after breast surgery helps improve arm mobility, reduces pain and decreases the risk of developing lymphoedema.
Physiotherapists also play a major role in health promotion, so I go back to my original question: how “aware” are you? Breast Cancer Awareness Month is about educating women to become breast aware so that you become familiar with what is normal for you and are therefore more able to detect any changes. Although the majority of changes turn out not to be breast cancer, for those that are affected, the earlier it is detected the more effective treatment is.
Lauren Kerr, In-patient Therapy Manager, The Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, St John’s Wood Clinic