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The Role of Rehabilitation Throughout Cancer Treatment

Rehabilitation is a healthcare service that can help people maximize their physical, cognitive, and emotional functions. A rehabilitation program can benefit patients diagnosed with severe cancer like mesothelioma, a rare form of respiratory cancer.  Meanwhile, you might ask: how can rehabilitation help during a patient's cancer treatment? What rehabilitation therapies exist for people with cancer? 

3 Ways Rehabilitation Can Aid Cancer Treatment

1. Reduce Cancer-Related or Treatment-Induced Fatigue 

Cancer fatigue is common in individuals with cancer. Some cancer patients may even experience recurring fatigue years after their treatment ends.

Rehabilitation services can help people manage cancer-treatment-related fatigue.

For example, occupational therapists (OTs) can develop customized programs to maximize patients' function, comfort, and safety in daily activities, including bathing and dressing.

OTs usually design rehabilitation plans based on patients' school, home, or workplace layouts.

These rehabilitation professionals can also teach ways to minimize the effort needed for specific tasks, helping patients manage fatigue and other treatment-related issues.

Therapy for cancer fatigue often begins with ruling out potentially treatable causes.

However, suppose that there are no apparent treatable causes. In that case, interventions like relaxation exercises, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and physical activity can help people cope better with cancer-related fatigue.

 2.  Maintain Physical Function 

Surgery and treatments for cancer can significantly impact people's physical wellness, causing weakness, difficulty balancing, and limited range of motion.

As part of the patient recovery process, physical therapy can help them regain strength and function.

For example, exercise routines and adaptive techniques may help patients feel better during treatment and recovery.

Physical therapists can also provide a personalized plan for individuals with cancer to accommodate the latter's recovery and activity levels.

It is crucial for rehabilitation professionals to address patients' physical problems as early as possible so that they can stay healthy and recover swiftly. 

3. Improve Quality of Life 

Various therapies exist to improve cancer patients' quality of life during recovery. These approaches often involve working with a cancer rehabilitation team.

Research showed that inpatient rehabilitation treatment significantly improved cancer patients' health-related quality of life, depression, and anxiety.

Rehabilitation therapies usually target specific issues that cancer survivors experience.

Cancer survivors could benefit significantly from cancer rehabilitation, but the research and available programs are just starting.

Still, the fact that more and more professionals discuss rehabilitation issues today means significant developments are underway.

3 Rehabilitation Therapies for Cancer Patients 

1. Physical Rehabilitation

Physical problems can result from cancer and cancer treatment. Physical rehabilitation can help patients with issues like


●Weakness and loss of strength

●Skin changes from radiation therapy

●Range of motion and flexibility issues

●Decreased endurance

●Problems swallowing

●Problems chewing food


●Balance issues and fear of falling

Cancer survivors' bodies go through changes that drastically affect their function.

After cancer, recovered patients can access a team of rehabilitation professionals to help them regain their former lives. This team could include a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, and rehabilitation nurses in pain management.

2. Cognitive Rehabilitation  

It's usually challenging for many cancer patients to get back to work or school, live independently, or handle simple tasks after treatment. This scenario happens because cancer can make it more difficult for people to focus, think, or remember.

Cognitive therapies like CBT help improve cancer patients' improve memory and mental sharpness.

3. Emotional Rehabilitation 

It's normal for cancer patients and their friends and family to feel a lot of emotions. Survivorship comes with many emotions to understand, cope with, and eventually overcome.

Cancer survivors do not always experience negative emotions. For instance, patients might feel pride, newfound strength, and hopeful anticipation.

Still, cancer survivors may feel pessimistic about what they've experienced. So, medical professionals often encourage recovering patients to take a proactive role in their recovery.

Physicians might recommend cancer survivors participate in therapy sessions where they can learn to be more aware of and manage their negative feelings.

During emotional rehabilitation, facilitators may encourage participants to ask themselves the following questions:

●Is it more difficult for me to get around these days?

●Do I feel pain, weakness, or any other symptoms?

●Do I have difficulty thinking clearly?

Patients may ask their healthcare team if they can access cancer rehabilitation services before treatment begins. Rehab professionals can check people's mobility, strength, and activities before condition-related problems emerge.

Regular assessments can catch issues before they get serious during treatment and beyond.

Overall, rehabilitation can improve cancer patients' quality of life. This approach can also benefit people with cancer work and home life by reducing symptoms and problems.


1. Exercise and other non-pharmaceutical interventions for cancer-related fatigue in patients during or after cancer treatment: a systematic review incorporating an indirect-comparisons meta-analysis


2. Improvement of quality of life and psychological distress after inpatient cancer rehabilitation


If you are seeking more information about other treatment options for mesothelioma Mesothelioma Group has plenty of free, quality resources.

About the Author 

This article was written by a guest contributor, Fay Smith, an English Literature major who spent five years working in communications before settling down with her husband. Now a proud mother of two young children, Fay frequently contributes to various health and wellness sites like Motherhood Community, sharing her experiences as a mother. As a freelance writer and researcher, she specializes in wellness topics like alternative treatments and CBD.

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