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Paediatric oncology is the area of medicine that deals with the screening, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care of children who are diagnosed with cancer. Physiotherapy is an essential part of the multi-disciplinary management of cancer during childhood and aims to minimise symptoms, improve function and improve your child’s quality of life. At, our experienced paediatric physiotherapists strive to deliver a first class standard of treatment utilising current research and literature.

Causes of cancer in childhood

The cause of cancer in children is not known. It is not infectious and neither is it caused be genes passed down from parents.

Building strength, co-ordination and balance under supervision of a paediatric physiotherapistAbove: Building strength, co-ordination and balance under supervision of a paediatric physiotherapist

Symptoms of cancer during childhood

Cancer is rare for children. However, children that have undiagnosed cancer may complain of headaches, tiredness, lack of appetite, nausea and visual changes. You may notice your child has an area of swelling or bruising and a fever. These symptoms are not exclusive to cancer and do not confirm a definitive diagnosis.

Diagnosis of cancer in childhood

If your child complains of the above symptoms, take them to see a doctor who will carry out a urine test to check for abnormal levels of chemicals in the urine. If a tumour is suspected, further tests such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, ultrasound and bone scans may be necessary.

Treatment of cancer during childhood

Depending on the type and nature of the tumour diagnosed, the treatment options will vary. The options for your child will be discussed with you by a paediatric oncologist. Treatment may include blood transfusions, symptom control, surgery, drugs, radiotherapy and management of secondary complications such as infections or breathing problems.

Physiotherapy for children with cancer

Your child will significantly benefit from physiotherapy assessment and treatment at any stage of their condition. Physiotherapy can help ensure your child is physically and cognitively strong enough for surgery or radiation therapy. It can also help your child recover from surgery and get back to normal level of ability and function. Physiotherapy can also prove beneficial in the palliative care of your child to ensure optimum comfort and dignity in the end stages of the condition.

Your physiotherapist will carry out a detailed assessment of your child’s muscle strength, range of movement, muscle tone, pain, sensation and proprioception. The findings of the assessment will be discussed and a list of your child’s problems and goals will be documented. Your child’s goal may be to use both hands to play a game or to walk up the stairs safely. Your physiotherapist will use play to plan fun activities which work towards your child achieving short term goals. A treatment plan for a child with cancer may include: Your physiotherapist will provide an exercise program for you to carry out with your child. This will include specific handling techniques, stretches, muscle strengthening exercises and sensory and lymphatic massage. It is important that your child continues with physiotherapy at home between sessions in order to make maximal improvement. Physiotherapy sessions can be provided at your home, in one of our clinic locations or in our hydrotherapy pool. Hydrotherapy is a form of exercise delivered in warm shallow water that benefits individuals with cancer of all ages. The physical properties of the warm water enable efficient mobilising and strengthening of all muscle groups and improve function. Your physiotherapist will also be able to provide advice and guidance regarding specialist seating and equipment. Our colleagues at Manchester Occupational Therapy are able to provide reports and advice regarding major adaptations to your home.

There are a wide range of physical and cognitive benefits that are achieved via specialist paediatric physiotherapy. Some of these benefits include:
  • Increased body image confidence
  • Increased independence and decreased reliance on others assistance
  • Increased self-esteem and motivation
  • Increased mobility and ability to move around
  • Increased muscle strength, balance and co-ordination
  • Increased exercise tolerance and stamina
  • Improved posture and core stability
  • Learn how to help your child through physical activity and exercise
  • Decreased pain and swelling
  • Decreased risk of secondary complications

Why for children with cancer

At we understand the symptoms and problems your child may face as a result of cancer. Our specialist physiotherapists have valuable experience working with cancer in childhood and can provide a high standard of assessment and treatment to enable optimum function and quality of life. It is proven that physiotherapy significantly improves function and quality of life for children who have cancer. At, our experienced physiotherapists provide an excellent standard of assessment and treatment in your own home or at one of our clinic locations. To discuss your child’s needs with a specialist paediatric physiotherapist or to book an appointment please contact us now on 0330 088 7800. Alternatively, use our online booking system to make an appointment online today!

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