Lung Cancer is the leading cause of cancer related death among men and women in the United States. Recent statistics suggest that almost 30% of cancer mortality is related to lung and bronchus cancer.
Unsurprisingly, there is a strong dose-response relationship between smoking and lung cancer, with smoking accounting for almost 90% of cases.
Lung cancer is divided into two categories for diagnostic and prognostic purposes: small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Those with SCLC often exhibit a more advanced stage of the disease. NSCLC accounts for approximately 80% of lung cancers and includes certain cell carcinomas and adenocarcinoma.
Treatment of the disease is dependent on the severity and progression of the disease. Treatment can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of treatment.
+ Range of Motion
Breast Cancer will often involve surgery to the breast tissue or surrounding muscle to remove cancerous cells. Additionally, survivors may have a port-a-cath inserted into the chest for the admisitration of chemotherapy. These methods can leave a feeling of tightness around the chest and upper extremities, and may limit range of motion of the arms and chest.
Pushing motions may be difficult, along with reaching with arms over the head. It's recommended that increasing flexibilty and range of motion of the affected area should be emphasized prior to performing upper body exercises. This gradual approach will serve to reduce the risk of injury, improve upper body functioning, and have greater long term benefits.
+ Cardiovascular and pulmonary changes
Radiation to the chest wall may cause some cardiotoxicity, including damage to the heart and surrounding muscles. The hearts ability to expand can subsequently be damaged, along with an increased risk of cardiac ischemia or heart attacks.
Similarly, lung survivors, particularly those who have had surgery to remove parts of the lung, will experience difficulty breathing, along with a reduced aerobic capacity. In this case, long durations of aerobic exercise may not be appropriate. Smaller bursts of activity and lower exercise intensities may serve to attenuate symptoms while concurrently improving lung function. It's likely that those with a surgery or damage to the lung may never reach full lung capacity. Nevertheless, aerobic exercise can serve to drastically improve lung function, aerobic capacity, and overall health.
+ Range of Motion
Any surgery or radiation to the chest wall may cause tightness and restricted range of motion of the upper body. In this case, flexibility should be emphasized before entering a progressive resistance training program. Pressing exercises should as bench press or military press may cause pain and discomfort until a greater range of motion has been established.
Nevertheless, it remains that resistance training should be performed as soon as possible to improve upper body strength and physical function.
+ Muscle Atrophy
Muscle atrophy is simply defined as the loss of muscle mass. We posit that muscle atrophy is more associated with a lack of physical activity as opposed to the treatment or cancer itself. Muscle atrophy, coupled with a low bone mineral density, can significantly increase risk of falls and fractures, and prevent you from performing activities of daily living. Similarly, resistance training offers the most "bang for your buck" as not only can it increase bone mineral density, but it can increase muscle mass and overall strength, all of which will translate to a better functional ability and quality of life!