Rehabilitation After Cancer

Improving the Well-Being of Cancer Survivors

Man and woman walking dog through woods.Treatment for cancer can take a toll on your body – both physically and mentally. People who go through treatment and 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 rehabilitation programs can often improve function, reduce pain, and improve the well-being of cancer survivors.

The goal of cancer rehabilitation is to help patients return to the highest level of function and independence possible, while improving the overall quality of life — physically, emotionally, and socially.

These goals are often met by:

  • Decreasing swelling
  • Improving balance
  • Improving bowel and bladder function
  • Improving functional independence with self-care
  • Improving independence with activities of daily living
  • Improving physical conditioning, endurance,and exercise performance
  • Improving social, cognitive, emotional, and vocational status
  • Managing pain

Cancer Rehabilitation Team

Many skilled professionals are part of the cancer rehabilitation team. Your primary care provider or oncologist will help coordinate care with:

  • Lymphedema therapists, who assist patients experiencing swelling that can occur following surgery or radiation treatment.
  • Occupational therapists, assist individuals in improving self-care independence, social interaction, pain management, energy conservation, and cognitive skills.
  • Pelvic health therapists, that assist patients who are experiencing pelvic pain, weakness, constipation, or incontinence related to their cancer diagnosis.
  • Physical therapists, to assist individuals in returning to prior level of function; addressing balance endurance, strength, mobility, and pain management.
  • Speech therapists, who assist individuals in maintaining and improving the ability to speak clearly and eat/swallow safely. 

Cancer Survivor Rehabilitation Check List:

If you can check any of the below symptoms that are new since your diagnosis of cancer, you may benefit from seeing a physical or occupational therapist to improve your overall function and independence.

 Chemo brain (memory problems)
 Decreased movement
 Difficulty completing daily tasks
 Falls or near falls
 Incontinence
 Numbness or tingling
 Pain
 Tiredness
 Trouble sleeping
 Weakness

Talk with your oncologist or primary care provider about rehabilitation after cancer.

Continue Watching

Cranial Therapy: Evelyn Zak "A Lesson in Acceptance"

After a flat spot began to develop on baby Evelyn's head, the Zak family turned to Mary Free Bed Orthotics and Prosthetics at Spectrum Health Lakeland.

Inpatient Rehabilitation: Mike Wilson "A New Normal"

After suffering a stroke, Mike Wilson spent the next month participating in an extensive inpatient rehabilitation program at Lakeland Hospital Watervliet to help him return to his normal functions.

Check-Up: Michael O'Hearn - A Pain in the Back

Physical therapist, Michael O'Hearn shares when to seek medical help for back pain.

Check-Up: A Pain in the Back - When to Seek Help

Physical therapist, Michael O'Hearn shares how to determine if back pain is serious enough to seek medical help.

Planning Your Life Around the Restroom? Take Control!

Learn about the causes and symptoms of incontinence.

Check-Up: Causes of Incontinence (Vanessa Cool, PT)

Vanessa Cool shares how rehabilitation can be an effective treatment option for incontinence.

Provider Video Profile: Meredith Krugh, NP (Oncology)

Meredith Krugh, an oncology nurse practitioner is providing care at Lakeland Cancer Specialists, in St. Joseph and Niles.

Intraoperative Radiation Therapy: Kellie Tyler "Catching Cancer Early"

Breast cancer survivor, Kellie Tyler, shares her experience undergoing Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT) treatment.

Check-Up: Catching Colon Cancer Early (Craig Kline, MD, General Surgery)

General surgeon, Craig Kline shares how colonoscopies can detect and remove polyps which may lead to colon cancer.

IORT: New Option for Early-Stage Breast Cancer

Lakeland physicians are now using the ZEISS INTRABEAM® intraoperative therapy system to deliver a targeted single-dose of radiation to the site of the breast cancer tumor, after a Lumpectomy.

© Spectrum Health Lakeland 2019