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Fast boat from China

A Chinese team sport could hold the key to understanding the role of exercise in managing the side effects of breast cancer treatment.

Researchers from Sheffield Hallam University will study a team of cancer survivors who take regularly to Lake Windermere to paddle dragon boats.

Commonly, the advice offered to women with lymphoedema, a side effect associated with breast cancer treatment, is gentle exercise and caution.

But dragon boat research carried out in Canada suggested that more strenuous exercise might play a vital role in boosting recovery.

NHS North Lancashire primary care trust has commissioned senior research fellow Helen Crank to carry out what is thought to be the first study of its kind in the UK.

Dr Crank will work with the Paddlers for Life charity, which supports cancer survivors, and says dragon boating

helps to restore people’s health, fitness and confidence.

The PCT says evidence is needed before the NHS can offer exercise programmes such as this to women recovering from breast cancer treatment.

The CSP clinical interest group, the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Oncology and Palliative Care, welcomed the study as a positive step. Karen Robb, ACPOPC education and research officer, said: ’There is a growing evidence base for exercise across many aspects of cancer care and the important role of

physiotherapists in providing exercise prescription is increasingly highlighted.’

She added: ‘It is exciting to see the Canadian study replicated in the UK, as it helped to dispel some of the myths surrounding exercise and breast cancer-related lymphoedema.

‘It will be particularly interesting to look at the adherence to team sports and whether it is a viable option for clinicians to consider when providing exercise prescription.

‘We agree that the social aspects of this form of exercise may be of particular benefit in this patient population. We eagerly await the results.’


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