n South African Journal of Sports Medicine - Exercise effects on mood in breast cancer patients : review




Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide, and statistics reveal that the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer in South Africa is increasing. As such, medical practitioners will treat an increasing number of breast cancer patients. Although increasingly effective treatments improve patient survival intervals, a significant number of patients experience psychological distress, at the time of diagnosis and sometimes well beyond the start of treatment. This can be attributed to the disease itself and to treatment side-effects. Historically, patients experiencing such distress have been treated with pharmacotherapy or have been referred for psychotherapeutic intervention. Although it is well known that physical exercise is beneficial to physical health, only recently, and comparatively, has the effect of exercise been recognised as beneficial to psychological well-being. Cancer patients are often advised to reduce physical activity to avoid cancer-related fatigue. Paradoxically, recent research shows that physical exercise, of the type and intensity appropriate for the ability of each patient, can in fact play a significant role in improving mood and aiding physical recovery. This opens up a valuable additional resource to augment patients' quality of life, both physically and psychologically. One precaution stands vitally important, however: the prescribed exercise regimen must be tailored to the physical capabilities of the patient.


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