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How Physio can Help With Cancer

Daffodil day originated in Canada in the 1950s. As the most iconic flower of spring, the daffodil represents hope for people battling cancer. The first official Irish Daffodil Day was held in 1988, making this year’s celebration the 30th to take place in Ireland.

Cancer is something that has affected more or less all of us at some point in our lives. Whether you’ve battled it personally, or have seen others go through their journey, we’re familiar with cancer. But while we may feel that we are aware already, campaigns such as Daffodil Day aim to educate us further. In fact, the reason the Irish Cancer Society was first established was because Professor Austin Darragh realised that 100 people a year were dying of a curable skin cancer, purely because they were unaware of the symptoms.

Physiotherapy may not come to mind when you think of cancer treatment, but as we have seen, there is always more to learn about cancer. This blog will look at how physiotherapy can be used to ease the suffering and aid the recovery of those battling cancer.


The issues faced by cancer patients vary considerably depending on where the cancer is and the type of treatment for it. For cancers that affect the nervous system, such as brain cancer, physiotherapy can offer a lot of benefits. Neurological cancers can impair our ability to balance, coordinate, or move certain body parts, all of which can benefit from working with a physiotherapist.


Similarly, physiotherapy can be used to address many types of pain that occur as a result of cancer. Of course, the type of pain experienced will depend on the location of the cancer. While physiotherapy may not be able to address the pain from all forms of cancer equally, it can be used to reduce pain in certain areas through use of massages, stretches, active movement and other forms of exercise.


Fatigue is one of the most commonly experienced side-effects of cancer treatment. This is particularly true for people who are battling breast cancer, prostate cancer or leukaemia. Apart from the impact that fatigue can have on our daily life and mood, it has been shown that less physical activity during recovery harms the process. One 2008 study from the British Journal of Cancer found that 30 minutes of physical activity a day not only reduces the risk of cancer by 34%, it also improves odds of recovery by 33%.

Breathing Difficulties

In addition to fatigue, breathlessness or difficulty filling the lungs are some of the most commonly reported symptoms of cancer (again, this varies depending on the form). Not only can this make everyday tasks much more challenging, it can also be a frightening experience. After being examined by a physiotherapist, they can identify the issues and prescribe breathing exercise to help you regain control of your breathing, and relax easier.

Daffodil Day 2017 takes place on the 23th of March. To learn more about the day or to get involved, please click here.

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