Current State of Oncology Physical Therapy
TAMPA -- The roles of rehabilitation and exercise in oncology have made great strides over the past 20-30 years. Yet there is still more to do. So argued Nicole Stout, MPT, CLT-LANA, at the Breast Care Center at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and Lucinda Pfalzer, PT, PhD, FACSM, FAPTA, professor and co-interim director at the school of health professions and studies, University of Michigan-Flint in their PT 2012 session, "The current state of oncology physical therapy."
The lecture began with a brief overview of cancer milestones and facts. Cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death in the U.S. 1.4 million new cases are expected in 2012. 10.5 million Americans have had cancer in their lifetime.
The National Cancer Institute funded the first study on exercise and cancer from 1984-1987 out of Ohio State University. The study looked at how women with stage two breast cancer responded to high-low interval exercise during treatment. However, like much research into exercise and cancer, the study focused on breast cancer. Dr. Pfalzer cautioned that researchers can't generalize between types of cancer and called for more research into all types of cancer.
The bulk of the talk focused on the importance of developing measurements to test and understand treatment outcomes. "If we [physical therapists] are seeing more of these patients, it's imperative we have a framework for understanding outcomes," said Stout. Such tools are being created by the Evaluation Database to Guide Effectiveness or EDGE task force of the APTA. The goals of EDGE are to establish a framework to facilitate evaluation of outcome measures; assist stakeholders in evaluation outcome measures; and promote a core set of outcome measures. Specifically, the oncology section looked at 8 target areas under the rubric of EDGE, creating specific measurements for each area. For example, they studied upper quadrant function in breast cancer patients and came up with new, standardized markers to study.
With 1/2 of American men and 1/3 of American women developing cancer in their lifetime, an increased focus on oncology physical therapy and oncology research is imperative. The speakers today clearly outlined the reasons why.