The Australian Physiotherapy Association’s (APA) ‘With Your Physio’ campaign is designed to inform the more than 11 million Australians who live with chronic health conditions on a daily basis, the important role physiotherapy can play in improving and managing their health journey.

The ‘With Your Physio’ campaign began in May this year with attention on common women’s health conditions, including sexual health incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, to educate those who may feel uncomfortable talking about their health issues, and encourage them to see their physiotherapist.

From September to November, the focus of ‘With Your Physio’ aligns with the National cancer awareness months, focusing on three of the most common cancers impacting Australians, prostate (September), breast (October) and lung cancer (November), and the vital role the prescription of exercise can play as a form of medical and health management.

APA Cancer, Palliative care and Lymphoedema National Group Chair, Dr Elise Gane said exercise prescription, modification and ongoing evaluation has become increasingly important in optimising health recovery or preventing further decline in patients living with and beyond cancer.

“The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates that one in two Australian men and women will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85. However, cancer survival rates have continued to improve since the 1980s and today, almost seven in 10 Australians will survive for at least five years after a cancer diagnosis." 

“As a result of screening programs, more Australians with chronic illnesses such as cancer, are being diagnosed earlier, rather than later. Importantly, early stage cancer responds better to treatment, so with early detection come increased survival rates.”

“Exercise aims to help keep the patient physically active and strong, and counteracts the side effects of cancer and the treatments. A thorough physiotherapy assessment can offer an appropriate and personalized prescription of structured exercises, as well as more general opportunities for physical activity, accounting for any problems a person may have. This can play a vital role in keeping patients physically fit, reducing their symptoms and maximizing their quality of life.”

“Often specialists and GPs do not have the time or expertise to assess for and then prescribe an exercise program for their patients during consultations, so increasingly they are referring their cancer patients to external health providers such as physiotherapists, who play an integral part in a patient’s health recovery and can assist in preventing future illness, disease and injury from occurring.”

“Physiotherapists have experience working in multidisciplinary teams and their training, skills and qualifications in anatomy, pathology and physiology make them well qualified to treat patients with a wide range of cancers. Physiotherapy treatment can address the side effects of the disease and its medical treatment, as well as any pre-existing conditions a person may have,” she said.

Dr Gane said that people living with cancer, who need or want to know how to exercise safely, can worry about exercise causing pain or discomfort, feel too tired to exercise, or just don’t know where to start.

“Physiotherapists can help guide, progress and support an individual’s exercise goals because we are experts in exercise prescription for a wide range of chronic conditions including cancers, and experts at adapting exercise programs to suit each and every patient, helping them manage their cancer with confidence.”

A number of fact sheets highlighting key information on prostate, breast and lung cancer have been developed and can be accessed here.

 
 

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