Physiotherapy plays a key role in the rehabilitation of patients receiving treatment for cancer and has relevance throughout all stages of a patient’s journey along the care pathway.

Diagnosis: Pre –treatment

Physiotherapy can offer support to prepare a patient both physically and mentally for the treatment ahead. This may involve discussions with a patient to educate about the possible physical consequences of their diagnosis and treatment along with information or treatment in order to reduce the impact of these consequences or provision of exercise advice to encourage the patient to self manage predictable treatment side effects and lessen their impact on the individual.

During Treatment: Promoting recovery

Surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy can all have an impact on individuals in the following ways:

  • Reduce muscle strength
  • Increase fatigue
  • Tight stiff joints/muscles
  • Changes in balance
  • Pain
  • Reduction in exercise tolerance
  • Changes to quality of life

Not all patients will receive all of the above treatments and not all patients will experience all the side effects. Access to a physiotherapist during treatment can lessen the impact of the above side effects allowing you to cope better with receiving the treatment; reduce your length of time in hospital and allowing you to return to your usual activities more quickly after treatment.

Sustaining Recovery:

Physiotherapy requirements will vary between individuals during this period. It may be that some of the symptoms experienced during the treatment phase of your disease are not yet resolved and need further intervention or it may be that new problems arise either as a result of the original disease or latent effects of the disease or its treatment. These can occur for up to several months/years after treatment has been completed.

Palliative and End of Life:

Symptom management i.e. breathlessness, pain and maximising independence in function is the focus for the physiotherapist during this stage. The intervention offered will depend on the goals wishing to be achieved by that individual in the context of medical, social and environmental factors. The goals may change frequently and quickly and the physiotherapist can respond to the changing needs during that time and adapt their approach accordingly.




Additional Information

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