Cancer impacts us all, whether as a patient or causing illness in someone close to us. Our individual Cancer risk is about 50% across our lifetime. Amazingly, although huge variation exists between survival rates for distinct types of cancer, Cancer survival in the UK has doubled in the UK over the last 50 years (Cancer Research UK).
The ongoing scientific research and medical advancements continue to improve survival rates and outcomes for cancer patients, with 50% of patients now surviving cancer for 10 or more years (Cancer, UK).
This is great news but it’s important to recognise that the burden of suffering for patients with or have been treated for Cancer can be considerable.
A Physiotherapist might not be the first healthcare professional you think of, when it comes to helping patients who have or had Cancer.
However, physiotherapists work in Oncology to support patients suffering from physical and psychological symptoms, which can be widespread. These symptoms are typically experienced during treatment for Cancer but also, often, long after treatment has finished.
Fatigue, a common symptom (suffered by 75-95% of Cancer patients) can be improved through Physiotherapy and undertaking a physical activity plan.
Quality of life has also been demonstrably improved through exercise for Cancer patients, regardless of the type and stage of a patient’s condition.
Physiotherapists will also work closely with Cancer survivors to restore fitness, independence and help patients’ with their return to work, which can be a daunting prospect after what is often a lengthy recovery process.
Some Cancer treatments can leave patients weaker with reduced mobility and, in some cases, at an increased risk of fragility fractures and falls. Physiotherapists work with patients to gradually build up their strength and energy levels. They willaddress specific issues such as reduced range of movement post-surgery, complications such as scar tissue, swelling or reduced balance and other functional limitations that reduce quality.
Patients who have experienced Cancer often report a broad range of psychological impacts such as depression, grief, anxiety, and ongoing uncertainty about the prognosis of their condition.
The support of a Physiotherapist in addressing physical impairments, can help provide patients with clear goals for recovery, simultaneously improving their feelings of control and improving their quality of life. As a profession, we often work closely with the multi-disciplinary team to ensure that all of the patients needs are met.
The role of the Physiotherapist is broad and is a crucial part of managing and improving patient outcomes following Cancer. Physiotherapy can be invaluable in restoring patients’ quality of life, whilst also addressing many treatment related side effects such as pain or fatigue, improving patients’ overall wellbeing and restoring their quality of life.
Our virtual Physiotherapy service offers quick, easy access to a highly qualified physiotherapist via a video link without needing a GP referral. If you’re interested in offering this solution to your people or populations, click here for more details of our offering.
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