The Role of Physiotherapy in Cancer Management Part 2

In our previous blog we discussed Cancer as a disease and the ways in which is managed and treated. In this part two we are going focus in on some of the ways Physiotherapy specifically can help manage Cancer symptoms and side effects.

One of the ways Physiotherapy can assist in the management of cancer symptoms, especially cancer related fatigue and pain is through the prescription of a specific individualized exercise program. Only 1 in 10 people diagnosed with cancer will be informed of the benefits of exercise during the course of their disease. However, research shows that there is minimal risk in engaging in appropriate exercise and there are many benefits including a reduction in pain, fatigue and cancer related mortality.

A Cochrane review which was published in 2012 examined the effects of exercise on 2,286 participants during cancer treatment and the effect it had on their health-related quality of life.1 This review demonstrated that those who participated in the exercise programs had an improvement in their quality of life, especially in the areas of social functioning, anxiety and depression, when compared to those who did not complete exercise.1 It was also found that those who completed exercise overall experienced a reduction in symptoms of fatigue.1 Similarly, a meta-analysis in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that survivors of cancer who performed exercise had a 27% lower risk of dying from cancer than those who did not complete the World Health Organizations daily exercise guidelines.2 Physiotherapists can help provide a specific exercise program which is tailored to the needs of the person living with cancer to help achieve these gains demonstrated by research.

Secondly Physiotherapy can assist in the management of pain and musculoskeletal dysfunction that many people living with cancer can experience. Post-surgery or after treatment people can experience pain from poor posture, tightening of specific muscles and joints, painful scars and changes to body function after removal of cancerous tissue. Physiotherapy can assist with mobilisation, massage and loading programs to assist with restoring normality.

Thirdly those who experience cancer of the reproductive or urological systems can have associated issues including sexual dysfunction, incontinence and pain. A Physiotherapist who is trained in pelvic health can be of assistance to restore function and improve symptoms for these people.

These are only a few of the ways in which Physiotherapy can help your journey with cancer.

If you are interested in starting an exercise program, relieving musculoskeletal pain or improving your pelvic health, get in contact with one of our experienced Physiotherapists here in Sydney CBD.


  1. Mishra SI, Scherer RW, Snyder C, Geigle PM, Berlanstein DR, Topaloglu O. Exercise interventions on health-related quality of life for people with cancer during active treatment. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Aug 15;2012(8):CD008465. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008465.pub2. PMID: 22895974; PMCID: PMC7389071.
  2. Li T, Wei S, Shi Y, Pang S, Qin Q, Yin J, Deng Y, Chen Q, Wei S, Nie S, Liu L. The dose-response effect of physical activity on cancer mortality: findings from 71 prospective cohort studies. Br J Sports Med. 2016 Mar;50(6):339-45. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2015-094927. Epub 2015 Sep 18. PMID: 26385207.
Emillie Kinkella

About Emillie Kinkella

Emillie joined the Bend + Mend team after a move east to Sydney from Bunbury, Western Australia. Emillie graduated from Curtin University with a Bachelor of Science (Physiotherapy) in 2017 and since graduation has had experience in both the public and private settings working in musculoskeletal physiotherapy. She has undergone post graduate training in dry needling, tendinopathy management, lower back pain disorders and Clinical Pilates. Emillie grew up in a soccer orientated family and enjoys treating soccer related injuries sustained both on and off the field, along with lower back pain disorders and tendinopathies. Outside of work Emillie enjoys cooking up a storm and exploring the sights of beautiful Sydney.

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