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Cancer Rehab

Posted 4/20/2015

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  Cancer Rehabilitation is different from cancer survivorship services. Survivorship services generally mean understanding and responding to possible emotional, psychosocial, and physical problems due to cancer and its treatment. For example, a survivorship plan, given to a patient soon after completion of active treatment, will include a summary of all treatments, possible medium and long term side effects, and a list of resources that might be helpful for a range of problems.

  Cancer rehabilitation, usually shortened to Cancer Rehab, is physically based and closer to what most of us would recognize as physical or occupational therapy. It addresses fatigue, changed bodies that need rdirecting/retraining in how best to function, surely information about general healing and recovery. The need for such services varies widely. People who have had "limited" treatment (and surely I realize that no treatment feels limited to the person who is receiving it) will have less need for rehab than people who have had major surgery, long periods of chemo and/or radiation, and may end up with greatly changed bodies.

  If you think that you might benefit from such a program, talk to your doctor about it. In the Boston area, there are a few designated rehab programs at institutions that specialize in rehab, and other hospitals likely have some services. This is a good summary and explanation from ASCO's Cancer Net:

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 02/2015

Key Messages:

Rehabilitation often helps patients regain strength, physical functioning, and independence that they may have lost due to cancer or its treatment.
Talk with your health care team to learn about the rehabilitation services available at your cancer center or in your area.
Depending on your needs, you may visit one or more specialists trained in specific areas of rehabilitation.
After cancer treatment, patients may notice a difference in their physical, social, psychological, and work-related abilities.
Cancer rehabilitation helps a person with cancer regain and improve the abilities that may have changed after cancer treatment. The goal of rehabilitation is to help a person remain as independent and productive as possible.
How cancer rehabilitation can help
Rehabilitation can improve the quality of life for people with cancer by reaching the following goals:
Improving physical strength to help offset limitations caused by cancer and cancer treatment
Increasing a person’s ability to care for himself or herself and reducing support needed from caregivers
Providing support to adjust to actual, perceived, and potential losses due to cancer and cancer treatment
Managing symptoms of cancer and its treatment, including fatigue, sleep problems, and pain.
Reducing how often a person needs to stay at the hospital

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