2 posts tagged “cancer symptoms”

Ommm: People with cancer practice chair yoga for bone benefits

Posted November 6th, 2018 by

Chemotherapy and other cancer treatments can take a toll on your bones and overall strength, so some patients are turning to chair yoga to boost their bone health and balance.

Things like bone health ‘seemed trivial compared to cancer’

We heard about chair yoga in this New York Times article, “Chair yoga for my funny bones.” The author, Susan Gubar, began practicing chair yoga after she recovered from a fractured pelvis following years of ovarian cancer treatment.

“I had no idea that cancer treatments put patients at risk for osteoporosis,” says Gubar, whose treatment included chemotherapy, radiation and steroids. A new diagnosis of osteoporosis and a vitamin D deficiency “made me realize how often I ignore health issues because they seem trivial compared to the mortal threat of cancer. Stress tests, dental work, cholesterol checks: who cares? Just dealing with cancer had been enough for me. Clearly that had to change.”

Gubar says she used to love walking but says she gave it up because she now walks stooped-over with a walker and has neuropathy in her feet (also from chemo). Her physical therapist and a friend from her cancer support group urged her to try chair yoga – now she’s hooked.

Small studies have shown that yoga may increase bone density in the spine and hips, in addition to strengthening muscles and improving balance, flexibility, stress management and self-esteem. Gubar uses yoga in combination with other treatments prescribed by her doctor for osteoporosis.

Chair yoga on YouTube

Gubar attends chair yoga classes in-person. But you can find several chair yoga flows online, ranging in length from 5 minutes on up to an hour (just remember to check with your healthcare provider before trying a new form of exercise):

Have you experienced bone loss or fractures following cancer treatment? Join PatientsLikeMe or log in to connect with thousands of other members in our cancer forum and learn how they’re treating or managing their symptoms and treatment side effects.


“Chemo brain”: 3 surprising findings from recent research

Posted July 19th, 2018 by

“Chemo brain” — the term for cognitive problems associated with chemotherapy treatment — appears to be very common, but doctors only started paying attention to it in the late 1990s.

2012 study that finally helped elevate chemo brain as a serious and widespread issue estimated that up to 75% of breast cancer survivors experience “cognitive deficits—problems with attention, concentration, planning, and working memory—from 6 months to 20 years after receiving chemotherapy.” Read on to learn some of the surprising findings from recent research on chemo brain.

1. Treatments beyond chemotherapy may cause chemo brain. “From many sources of data, we now know patients experience impairments not just after chemo, but after surgery, radiation, hormonal therapy,” and other treatments, oncologist Patricia Ganz, M.D., tells the National Cancer Institute. Immunotherapy may also cause cognitive dysfunction, according to MD Anderson Cancer Center.

2. Cancer itself may cause some chemo brain. A 2015 study found that people with lung cancer have mental impairments and changes in their brain even before treatment. For example, patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) had “verbal memory deficits” (e.g., trouble remembering words) and damage to the brain’s white matter (which some consider “the subway of the brain”). A 2017 animal study also showed that cancer itself can impact the brain, possibly because the body’s response to cancer can cause inflammation to the brain.

3. Chemo brain is often so subtle that standard tests can’t detect it. Just last month (June 2018), researchers issued a call for a new clinical approach to chemo brain, as reported in the Los Angeles Times. One of the main problems? Experts have mainly tried to assess chemo brain using neurological tests geared toward those with severe brain injuries, Alzheimer’s disease or stroke. But tests like those are “unlikely to detect, measure or explain the often subtle impairments that, for many cancer survivors, make it hard to return to a mentally demanding job, continue driving or lay plans for the future,” The Times notes.

Can anything help with chemo brain symptoms?

“Stimulants or brain training may help some patients,” the team at MD Anderson says. “Cognitive strategies or healthy lifestyle changes, like improved sleep quality and exercise, can also help.” Talk with your care team and ask for a referral to a neuropsychology specialist. (If you’ve tried any treatments or therapies for cognitive symptoms, please make a comment below.)

Join PatientsLikeMe today to find dozens of conversations about chemo brain and see the most commonly reported side effects of chemotherapy.

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