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Cancer Rehabilitation

What is cancer rehabilitation?

Cancer rehabilitation (rehab) is a doctor-supervised program for people who have had treatment for cancer. It is designed to help people return to activities of daily living (ADLs). People who have survived cancer may have physical, emotional, and social issues that affect their quality of life, no matter what kind of cancer they have been treated for. Cancer rehab programs can often improve function, reduce pain, and improve the well-being of cancer survivors.

The cancer rehabilitation team

Cancer rehab programs can be held on an inpatient or outpatient basis. The cancer rehab team may include any of the following professionals:

  • Oncologist

  • Physiatrist

  • Internist

  • Other specialty doctors

  • Rehabilitation specialists

  • Rehabilitation nurse

  • Registered dietitian

  • Physical therapist

  • Occupational therapist

  • Social worker

  • Psychologist or psychiatrist

  • Recreational therapist

  • Case manager

  • Chaplain

  • Vocational counselor

The cancer rehabilitation program

A cancer rehab program is designed to meet the needs of each person depending on the specific type of cancer and treatment. Active involvement of the patient and family is vital to the program's success.

The program's goal is to help people return to the highest level of function and independence possible. At the same time, the program aims to help improve their overall quality of life physically, emotionally, and socially. These goals are often met by:

  • Managing pain

  • Improving bowel and bladder function

  • Improving nutritional status

  • Improving physical conditioning, endurance, and exercise performance

  • Improving social, cognitive, emotional, and work status

  • Reducing hospitalizations

To help reach these goals, cancer rehab programs may include:

  • Using medicines and pain management methods to reduce pain

  • Exercise programs to help build strength and endurance

  • Patient and family education and counseling

  • Activities to improve movement (mobility) and decrease sleep problems

  • Help with ADLs such as eating, dressing, bathing, toileting, handwriting, cooking, and basic housekeeping

  • Stopping smoking

  • Stress, anxiety, and depression management

  • Nutritional counseling

  • Management of chronic illness or complications due to cancer treatments

  • Vocational counseling

Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Cunningham RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Thomas N Joseph MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Trina Bellendir PT
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2020
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