Breast cancer is the most common non-skin cancer among women worldwide, affecting millions and resulting in both physical and emotional challenges post-treatment. Rehabilitation in the form of physiotherapy has increasingly become a crucial component of the recovery process for survivors. A recent study published in Contemporary Oncology (Poznan, Poland) has shed light on the instrumental role that physiotherapy plays in improving lung function amongst breast cancer survivors – a finding that reverberates hope and progress in oncological care.

Study Overview

In a revealing investigation, “Evaluation of the effectiveness of physiotherapy in patients after oncological breast cancer treatment based on spirometric indicators” (DOI: 10.5114/wo.2019.82929), a team led by Iwona Kulik-Parobczy from the Institute of Physiotherapy at Opole University of Technology, Poland, delved into the pulmonary impacts of physiotherapy on breast cancer patients. This study examined a cohort of 91 women who had completed breast cancer therapy and were undergoing outpatient physiotherapy, gathering data through spirometric tests to evaluate respiratory function.

Key Findings

The study found that as the duration of physiotherapy increased, so did the ventilation index FEV1%—a primary indicator of lung function—improving on average by 1.8 units for each additional day of treatment. However, the presence of lymph node involvement was associated with a substantial decline in another vital spirometric measure, the Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF), by an average of 64 units. Chemotherapy was also shown to have a statistically significant impact on spirometric indicators, affirming the need for tailored physiotherapeutic interventions post-chemotherapy treatments.

Notably, the research highlighted that physiotherapy significantly improved lung function in patients post-breast cancer treatment, with more pronounced progress observed in patients who underwent radical treatment for advanced cancer.

Implications and Relevance

The study’s insights are particularly meaningful for physiotherapists, oncologists, and survivors, indicating that individualized rehabilitation protocols can enhance respiratory health, which is often compromised following intensive cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. This aligns with previous studies, which have emphasized the role of exercise and physiotherapy in improving quality of life, function, and treatment-related side effects following breast cancer (Hayes et al., 2013; Lee et al., 2010).

Context and Prior Research

Previous research has long advocated for the importance of physical therapy in the broader scope of breast cancer recovery (Burnett et al., 2013; Smoot et al., 2012; Jones et al., 2012). These studies have underscored the benefits of physiotherapy in managing side effects, enhancing physical fitness, and reducing the incidence of lymphedema—a common and debilitating post-operative complication in breast cancer surgery (Cantarero-Villanueva et al., 2012; Yee et al., 2014).

Understanding the relationship between pulmonary functions and breast cancer treatments has been a focal area of clinical inquiry. Radiation therapy, for instance, has been known to induce changes in lung function (Jaen et al., 2006), and this study underscores the need for consistent rehab interventions to mitigate such effects (Spyropoulou et al., 2009).

Challenges and Considerations

Despite the clear benefits demonstrated, the study also acknowledges the complexity of rehabilitating breast cancer survivors with varying degrees of pulmonary involvement—raising the question of how best to tailor physiotherapy to individual patient needs. The multifaceted nature of physiotherapy protocols thus requires healthcare providers to consider the full gamut of physical, psychological, and social factors when designing and implementing treatment regimens (Stiller, 2013; Travers et al., 2008).

Conclusion and Future Directions

The study led by Kulik-Parobczy makes an impactful contribution to our understanding of physiotherapy’s efficacy in breast cancer survivors. By focusing on spirometric indicators, the research offers tangible data reinforcing the need for inclusive and ongoing rehab services post-cancer treatment. The findings encourage continued exploration into the optimization of physiotherapeutic techniques, with the ultimate goal of enhancing the quality of life for those on the path to recovery from breast cancer.


1. Kulik-Parobczy, I. (2019). Evaluation of the effectiveness of physiotherapy in patients after oncological breast cancer treatment based on spirometric indicators. Contemporary Oncology (Poznan, Poland), 23(1), 47-51.

2. Cantarero-Villanueva, I., Fernández-Lao, C., Fernández-de-Las-Peñas, C., López-Barajas, I. B., Del-Moral-Ávila, R., de la-Llave-Rincón, A. I., & Arroyo-Morales, M. (2012). Effectiveness of water physical therapy on pain, pressure pain sensitivity and myofascial trigger points in breast Cancer survivors: a randomized, controlled clinical trial. Pain Medicine, 13, 1509–1519.

3. Hayes, S. C., Rye, S., Disipio, T., et al. (2013). Exercise for health: a randomized, controlled trial evaluating the impact of a pragmatic, translational exercise intervention on the quality of life, function, and treatment-related side effects following breast cancer. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 137, 175–186.

4. Lee, S. A., Kang, J., Kim, Y. D., An, A. R., Kim, S. W., Kim, Y. S., & Lim, J. Y. (2010). Effects of a scapula-oriented shoulder exercise programme on upper limb dysfunction in breast cancer survivors: a randomized controlled pilot trial. Clinical Rehabilitation, 24, 600–613.

5. Yee, J., Davis, G. M., Beith, J. M., et al. (2014). Physical activity and fitness in women with metastatic breast cancer. Journal of Cancer Survivorship, 8, 647–656.


1. Breast Cancer Physiotherapy
2. Pulmonary Function Post-Cancer
3. Spirometric Indicators Improvement
4. Oncological Treatment Rehabilitation
5. Physiotherapy Effectiveness Breast Cancer