The Case for Cancer Rehabilitation

Cancer rehabilitation services have been shown to reduce emergency-room visits and unplanned hospitalizations, improve pain management, increase physical function, enhance quality of life, enable a faster return to work, and lower cost of care (Stubblefield, 2020). The lack of needed rehabilitation services can lead to unnecessary long-term physical and psychological suffering (Stout et al., 2019).

Research indicates cancer rehabilitation can significantly improve patients’ quality of life, but only an estimated 2% – 9% of survivors receive needed services (Pergolotti et al., 2019). Many more survivors remain unaware of their risk of recurrence and late effects, and have no plan for follow-up care. This gap between what survivors need, and what survivors receive, can be traced to the failure of healthcare systems to routinely screen, triage, and refer oncology patients to the appropriate tiered rehabilitation option early in oncology treatment (Covington et al., 2021).

Efforts to integrate rehabilitation services into survivor care are currently limited by an under-recognition among oncologists of the significant, short- and long-term patient benefits provided through cancer rehabilitation, and by an under-estimation within the broader healthcare system of potential cost savings available through reduced complications when cancer rehabilitation services are delivered to patients alongside oncology treatments (Pergolotti et al., 2019).

I have written two articles about cancer rehabilitation for Conquer Magazine, the official patient magazine of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators:

2020 December, Conquer Magazine, Cancer Rehabilitation: Creating Your Parallel Universe of Healing. To read the article, click here: Conquer Dec 2020 Creating Your Parallel Universe of Healing.

2019 October, Conquer Magazine, “Is Cancer Rehabilitation a Good Option for You? It’s Never Too Late to Ask for a Referral. To read the article, click here: Conquer Oct 2019 Is Cancer Rehabilitation A Good Option for You? It’s Never Too Late to Ask for a Referral.

Other resources include the following:

Stout Alfano Long-Term Survivorship Care 2019


2019 Pergolotti A health services research agenda

Covington et al_2021_EXCEEDS Development

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