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Can ‘PREHABILITATION’ Benefit Cancer Patients?

August 4, 2018

Cancer prehabilitation may not common, but maybe it should be. For anyone having surgery, whether it’s replacement of a knee joint or removal of a cancerous tumour, some type of rehabilitation is expected as a part of the recovery process. But prehabilitation programs before treatment also are proving to be a big help to all kinds of cancer patients.

Cancer prehab is an emerging field that takes place before surgery or other treatment begins. Prehabilitation programs aim to help patients build endurance, cardiovascular health, and strength to prepare their bodies for the stress of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

A growing number of oncologists now are recommending a program of prehabilitation for cancer patients before they begin their treatment. Cancer prehab may involve exercises or counselling to promote healthy eating habits. But it’s more than that. In a full prehabilitation program, patients undergo a physical and psychological assessment to determine if there are any conditions or diseases in addition to cancer that might affect cancer treatment or recovery.

According to one study, there is a good chance a cancer patient does have other health challenges. That study, done in 2015, found that between 65 percent and 90 percent of cancer patients had at least one health condition in addition to their cancer diagnosis. For some patients, those additional health concerns can complicate treatment, or even limit their treatment options.


  • Better physical outcomes
  • Better psychological outcomes
  • Fewer complications
  • Less need for patients to be re-admitted to the hospital
  • Patients are better able to tolerate cancer treatment
  • Patients are able to resume work or other regular activities

In one research study, 77 people with colorectal cancer who were awaiting surgery were divided into two groups. One group participated in an exercise, relaxation, and nutritional counselling program in the four weeks before surgery. The other half participated in the same program in the eight weeks after surgery.

Eight weeks after surgery, 84 percent of the patients who had the cancer prehab program had recovered well enough to perform as well on a walking test as they had before surgery. Of those who completed the program after surgery, only 62 percent had recovered to their pre-surgery levels.

We at Apollo CBCC Hospital believe that prehabilitation improves the outcome and hence we urge patients to undergo the program for better results.

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