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Using Baseline Physical Tests for MBC Patients  

Managing weakness and fatigue during treatment for metastatic breast cancer (MBC) differs for patients depending on their unique needs. Cancer rehabilitation specialist and physical therapist Dr. Leslie Waltke, DPT, discussed baseline physical tests MBC patients can discuss with their doctor and use at home to evaluate their overall health in a recent MBC Impact Series event.  

Dr. Waltke recommends MBC patients utilize the following physical tests and track their results: 

  • Stand on one leg. 
  • Lay down on the floor and get up again. 
  • Go up and down stairs. 
  • How far can you walk? 
  • How long can you stand?

“If you find that you can’t stand on one leg or you really have a lot of difficulty with one leg or the other or both, I would suggest that you start standing on one leg to work on your balance,” Dr. Waltke said. “Every time you are walking, at some point in your gait phase you are standing on one leg. If you lose the ability to stand on one leg, walking is going to become difficult, and we don’t want that to happen.” 

Laying down on the floor and getting back up tests strength, flexibility, coordination and power, Dr. Waltke explained. When utilizing this test, MBC patients should measure: “How well do you do that? Do you need a little bit of help? Do you need no help? Do you need moderate help, or is it not even possible?” 

If MBC patients struggle with getting up off the floor, Dr. Waltke recommends that patients should spend more time exercising and consider working with a physical therapist to address coordination, balance, range of motion, strength and overall physical ability. 

Additionally, Dr. Waltke recommends that MBC patients keep track of how far they can walk. “Is it a block, half a mile, three miles? If you are in treatment, this might vary from month to month.” 

After performing these baseline physical tests, MBC patients can rate their performance status from 0 to 5, with 0 being the highest functioning performance status and 5 being the lowest functioning performance status.  

“You want to be a 0, 1, 2 or 3. If you have MBC, chances are you won’t always be a 0, but pay attention so you can address things when they sneak up on you.” 

MBC patients can learn more about performance status and other ways to manage weakness and fatigue during treatment by watching Dr. Waltke’s full webinar in the MBC Impact Series. 

The MBC Impact Series provides people living with metastatic breast cancer and their loved ones a safe, collaborative space to gather information related to MBC and discover practical resources to help make decisions for improved physical and emotional health. Click here to learn about this free education, along with upcoming dates and topics.