Cancer rehabilitation: Helping people with cancer maintain and restore well-being

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

By Jennifer O'Hara

Cancer rehabilitation is available before, during and after cancer treatment. It helps people with cancer maintain and restore physical and emotional well-being, cope with the side effects of cancer, and recover more quickly and more fully from cancer treatment.

Cancer rehabilitation involves many types of specialists working together to develop a personal rehabilitation plan that considers a person's preferences, strengths and goals.

"Cancer rehabilitation aims to help patients maintain function, restore function, and, more broadly, maintain personhood," says Andrea Cheville, M.D., a Mayo Clinic specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation. "We obviously don't want the process of curing cancer to leave patients with lasting issues that are going to compromise the quality of their life."

Cancer rehabilitation can include help from a wide variety of specialists, including physical medicine and rehabilitation, physical and occupational therapy, speech and language pathologists, and psychologists.

"All these specialists work in close partnership to develop an individualized program for each unique individual that meets their needs, goals and preferences," explains Dr. Cheville.

Dr. Cheville encourages people with cancer to include their family and caregivers in the cancer rehabilitation process. It is important for caregivers to understand the patient's goals and support the work needed to reach them.

"The ideal for a cancer rehab team is the full engagement of the caregiver or partner," says Dr. Cheville. " It truly is a partnership and a team effort."

Watch this video to hear Dr. Cheville discuss what's involved in cancer rehabilitation and how it can help people cope with the challenges that come with cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery:

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A version of this article was originally published on the Mayo Clinic News Network.