Breast Cancer Awareness Month

awareness cancer design pink
Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels.com

Fiona McMahon, DPT

Have you noticed an increase in the amount of pink on just about everything the last couple of days? The increase of pink everything is because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Breast Cancer is an extremely common cancer. According to the Nation Breast Cancer Foundation, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Men can also get breast cancer, however, it is much rarer for men to develop breast cancer. Luckily with early detection and treatment of early stage and localized cancer, the 5-year relative survival rate is 100%. That being said, early detection is crucial and it is important to catch breast cancer early to ensure the best possible outcome. Let’s take some time to review the signs of breast cancer and recommended screening protocols.

Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer

  • Change of Sensation/ texture of the Breast or Nipples
    • Lumps, change in texture in the breast, nipple, or underarm area
  • Change in appearance of Breast or Nipple
    • Swelling
    • Shrinkage
    • Dimpling
    • Change of nipple orientation
  • Discharge from nipple

Detection

Recommended Screening:

Mammogram

  • Recommended every 1-2 years for women who are 40 years old or older.
  • May be recommended for women who are under 40, but have increased risk of breast cancer.

 

Genetic Testing

For some types of breast cancer, there is a very specific link to a person’s genes and her or his risk of developing breast cancer. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes that are responsible for the production of certain tumor-suppressing proteins. In some populations, there are mutations in these genes that disable their tumor-fighting properties. These gene mutations are relatively rare and currently, screening is recommended just for individuals with increased risk of harboring these mutations. According to the National Cancer Institute, individuals who are at higher risk and should consider genetic testing are:

  • Individuals who have a male relative who has developed breast cancer
  • History of BRCA related cancers within family history
  • People of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish ancestry
  • Breast Cancer diagnosed before age 50 in family
  • Multiple cases of breast cancer in family

Individuals that test positive for BRCA mutations may consider increased screening, prophylactic surgery or chemoprevention.

Mastectomy and Physical Therapy

Mastectomy, removal of the breast is currently the most common treatment for breast cancer. Some women chose to have their breasts reconstructed after their mastectomy and others do not. It is obviously a very personal choice.  Like any surgery, mastectomies require close postoperative care to ensure maximal function and recovery.

You may have read the last sentence, and thought, “What is the function of the breast, besides breastfeeding and for sexual pleasure?” The breast lies in an important intersection in the body. The armpit (axilla) contains bundles of nerves, blood vessels, and lymph vessels that course through it, serving the arm down to the fingers. After a mastectomy, their course can be interrupted by scar tissue, radiation damage (if your treatment included radiation), causing painful conditions such as nerve entrapments, frozen shoulder, and lymphedema, ( a backup of lymph fluid, if left unchecked can cause permanent damage and deformation of the arm).

victoria2016Victoria LaManna, DPT, CLT, is our lymphedema expert. If you have had a mastectomy and are unsure about lymphedema care, she is an excellent resource. She will be able to instruct you in self- care and lymphedema prevention measures. Physical therapy can also help to release scar tissue in the breast and upper arm area, regain strength in the arm, and ultimately improve your function. Visit us, and read up on Victoria’s bio here, as well ask on our website at:  www.beyondbasicspt.com/lymphedema

Sources:

http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/. Accessed: September 24, 2016

National Cancer Institute. BRCA1 and BRCA2: Cancer Risk and Genetic Testing. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/genetics/brca-fact-sheet#q1. Accessed September 25,2016

http://www.beyondbasicspt.com/lymphedema

Lymph Drainage Therapy for Breast Health at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy

Victoria LaManna, PT, DPT, CLT

lymphAs Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to an end, we at Beyond Basics are working hard to help spread the word on the importance of regular self-examination and early detection. For further review, please see our blog post from earlier this month.

In addition to regular self-examination, regular breast massage is shown to help increase the circulation in your breasts. Therapeutic breast massage can also lessen discomfort associated with breast cancer treatments, help relieve post-surgical symptoms, and reduce discomfort during pregnancy, breastfeeding and weaning. Breast massage also contributes to improved skin tone while promoting relaxation and balancing your energy.
With regular massage, you will help diminish benign breast cysts while helping to flush lymph nodes and stimulating your glandular system. The breasts are soft tissue and do not have muscles to help them move, therefore they require assistance for improved circulation and lymph flow.
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer and have undergone lymph node removal, mastectomy and/or radiation, you may experience lymphedema. About 15-20% of women who have axillary lymph nodes removed during breast cancer surgery will develop lymphedema. Working closely with your medical team to manage lymphedema is key! A Certified Lymphatic Therapist (CLT) can effectively apply gentle hands-on techniques to help enhance circulation and drainage.
Lymphedema is an accumulation of protein-rich lymphatic fluid in the tissues that contributes to swelling secondary to blockage in lymphatic flow when nodes or vessels are damaged. Individuals who have lymphedema may complain of discomfort in the affected limb, feeling of fullness in the limb, fatigue, or decreased flexibility. They may also complain of breast pain, tight-feeling skin, difficulty fitting into clothes, or tightness when wearing rings, bracelets, or watches. Venous insufficiency and obesity can contribute to lymphedema.

Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) consists of Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) that aids in the circulation of body fluids, drains toxins from the body, stimulates the immune system and the parasympathetic system, reduces pain and/or muscle spasms, increases ROM, and decreases swelling. CDT can be used to treat conditions such as post-surgery and scars, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, infertility, painful periods, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome. In conjunction, it is important to have an exercise program of stretching and strengthening to get the maximum benefits of CDT. After treatment, the patient may experience increased urinary frequency or increased amount of urine, increased sleep time or better quality of sleep, tension release and/or emotional release, or improved senses.

If you are seeking treatment, you need to see a licensed healthcare provider that is trained in Lymphedema Drainage Therapy. To find a specialist in your area, go to www.apta.org and click on “Find a PT”, specializing in LDT. Alternatively, you can search through the National Lymphedema Network or the Lymphatic Association of North America (LANA).

victoria2016Victoria LaManna, DPT, CLT, is our lymphedema expert. If you have had a mastectomy and are unsure about lymphedema care, she is an excellent resource. She will be able to instruct you in self- care and lymphedema prevention measures. Physical therapy can also help to release scar tissue in the breast and upper arm area, regain strength in the arm, and ultimately improve your function. Visit us, and read up on Victoria’s bio here, as well as on our website at: www.beyondbasicspt.com/lymphedema.

Beyond Basics’, Victoria LaManna Receives Lymphatic Drainage Therapy Certification

victoria2016Victoria La Manna, PT, DPT, CLT of New York, NY successfully completed Norton’s School of Lymphatic Therapy’s Lymphedema Certification Program. The certification signifies advanced skill in the application of complete decongestive therapy (CDT) in the treatment of lymphedema.

Lymphedema is the abnormal accumulation of protein rich fluid due to a disorder of the lymphatic vessel or nodes. It is a chronic condition that will usually worsen over time if left untreated. Complex Decongestive Therapy is the conservative treatment of choice for lymphedema and is reimbursable in New York by medical insurance. CDT involves a regimen of manual therapy, medical compression (bandaging, wrapping of the area), skin care, aerobic conditioning, and isotonic exercises done during the therapy session and at home.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) Therapy is a gentle hands-on modality used to stimulate lymph flow and its specific rhythm, direction, depth, and quality over the entire body. This technique is used to aid excess lymphatic fluid to healthy neighboring territories and return it to the intact lymphatic system. The effects of MLD consist of:
• Relaxation, analgesic, diuretic
• Increases performance of the lymphatic system
• Re-routes fluid from congested area
• Softens connective tissue

MLD may also benefit these conditions:
• Lipedema
• Phlebo-lymphostatic
• Post-trauma or post-surgical swelling and healing
• Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
• Cyclic-Idiopathic Swelling
• Inflammatory Rheumatism
• Migraine Headache
• Sinus Headache
• Scleroderma
• Chronic Fatigue
• Fibromyalgia
• General Relaxation

Victoria La Manna, PT, DPT, CLT earned, and successfully received, the 140-hour Lymphedema/CDT Certification which fulfills the requirements to sit for the national certification testing with the Lymphology Association of North America (LANA). Dr. La Manna is an expert physical therapist at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy, which is located in midtown Manhattan. She began, and is currently the head physical therapist for, the Lymphedema Program, which addresses the upper and lower extremities and the trunk region in men, women, and children. She is a member of the Women’s Health and Orthopedic sections of the American Physical Therapy Association and the National Lymphedema Network. Victoria is also a member of the National Vulvodynia Association and the International Pelvic Pain Society.

Think Pink!

By Riva Preil

October marks National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and this is an appropriate time for us to review important health care information.  In my opinion, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure, and fortunately, the American Cancer Society has established guidelines for us to follow.  Women over 40 years of age should have annual mammograms and clinical breast exams (CBE).  Women in their 20s and 30s should also have CBEs every three years.  All women should perform a monthly breast self-exam (BSE)- refer to attached link for further details.

Furthermore, starting at age 50, both men and women should participate in colorectal cancer and polyp tests, including flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years, colonoscopy every ten years, double contrast barium enema every five years, or CT colonography (also called virtual colonoscopy) every five years.  Endometrial (uterine) cancer and prostate cancer should also be screened appropriately. Please speak with your primary care physician regarding further details.

Prevention also includes maintaining proper general health care.  This includes avoiding cigarettes, limiting alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight, participating in regular exercises, eating healthy foods (ex. fruits and vegetables), and regular medical check-ups.  May we all celebrate this year’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the best of health!

Click here for even more information from Cancer.org.