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Undergoing Blood Cancer Treatment? Keep These Exercise Precautions in Mind

171481 Viewed Jacob Martin Comments Off on Undergoing Blood Cancer Treatment? Keep These Exercise Precautions in Mind

Blood cancer treatment is highly variable, and there are many treatment options available depending on the type of blood cancer. It can range from chemotherapy or radiation therapy to targeted therapy and stem cell transplantation. Some people might even have to undergo a combination of these treatments. Anyone undergoing blood cancer treatment in India must follow their doctor’s advice when it comes to developing a standard set of practices including their diet and exercise.

It’s true that chemotherapy and radiation therapy have their own side effects which include weakness, pain and fatigue among others. However, these can be curbed, and a patient can indeed beat the side effects. Adopting healthy habits is the mantra of leading a happy life, and it’s more than important when someone is undergoing blood cancer treatment.

The advantages of exercise during cancer treatment are well-documented. It is one of the many ways in which a patient can control certain side effects such as pain and fatigue. Though, a significant thing to notice is that every cancer is different, and certain exercises might not suit patients with different cancer(s). Below are some factors that a blood cancer patient must consider before they start with an exercise program.

Consider Blood Cell Counts Before Planning an Exercise Program

Blood and bone marrow cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma can decrease the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets in the blood. The treatment of these cancers can further lower various cell counts. In such a scenario, regular exercising can be risky and deteriorate the condition.

  • Low Red Blood Cells – Anaemia

Red blood cells contain haemoglobin, which carries oxygen to the organs and tissues in the body. People with blood cancer often have a low RBC count which can impact their exercise regime. It may lead to decreased performance as a lower RBC count will put extra demand on the body during exercise. Since the organs and tissues are not getting enough oxygen, issues like breathlessness can surface when exercising. Avoiding workout or lowering the intensity are two options that should be put into strict consideration. Furthermore, medical advice from the doctor is highly essential before starting a workout program, especially when the RBC count is low.

  • Low White Blood Cells – Neutropenia

White blood cells are the soldiers in the body that stop the invasion of infection-causing bacteria and viruses. In case a person has low WBC count in their blood, their body’s infection-fighting ability is hindered. Patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy will further have a decreased WBC count. Such people should altogether avoid places and exercises that can have a direct impact on their health. Crowded areas, public swimming pools, or the neighbourhood gym should be avoided. Instead, people with low WBC count can choose to workout at home. Again, consulting a doctor is highly recommended as intense exercises can further resurface some blood cancer symptoms.

  • Low Platelet Count – Thrombocytopenia

Some cancers such as leukaemia can cause thrombocytopenia which leads to a low platelet count. Platelets are responsible for forming clots in the body. People with a low platelet count are more prone to bruising and bleeding. Exercising, especially contact sports, and heavy lifting should be avoided altogether in case a patient has low platelet count.

Safety Measures

Different cell counts in blood should always be assessed before embarking on an exercise schedule. However, if the counts are healthy, patients should follow the safety tips mentioned below:

  • Patients undergoing chemotherapy usually have a CVC (Central Venous Catheter). Securing the CVC is crucial before working out. Asking the doctor about specialised attire and activity limitations is also important.
  • Having an exercise partner can help in keeping the motivation levels high while also being a safer alternative.
  • Patients with CVC should avoid swimming as it can cause infections.
  • As per studies, myeloma patients are at an elevated risk of bone fractures and should avoid heavy lifting altogether.
  • Get immediate help from a blood cancer hospital in case of symptoms like dizziness, confusion, chest pain, nausea, breathlessness or unusual bruising while exercising.

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