Changes in the delivery of cancer care to include physiotherapy:

  • 2 million people in the UK are living with or after cancer
  • 60% have unmet physical or psychological needs following treatment
  • 1.6 million cancer survivors are not active at levels recommended by the UK’s Chief Medical Officer

A key message in guidance recently published by the Royal College of Anaesthetists, Macmillan Cancer Support and the National Institute for Health Research Cancer & Nutrition collaboration was that providing people with a cancer prehabilitation programme (an exercise programme delivered before treatment) improved their outcomes, raised their quality of life and reduced the risk of the disease progressing.

Evidence shows that exercise reduces the risk of cancer recurrence and mortality. Mortality can be reduced by 50 per cent, 40 per cent and 30 per cent in bowel, breast and prostate cancer respectively. In addition to this, disease progression was reduced by 57 per cent in men with prostate cancer who engaged in three hours a week of moderate intensity exercise.

Exercise can improve quality of life for cancer patients, regardless of the type and stage of their disease. Inclusion of physio-led exercise within cancer pathways can reduce and prevent disability and also alleviate distressing symptoms such as lymphoedema and fatigue, which debilitates 75-95 per cent of all cancer patients.

Excessive weight gain and loss and reduced bone density due to treatment can be a problem for many patients. Specialist physios can advise patients on how to maintain a healthy weight, prevent muscle-wasting and limit bone density loss. Specialist Physio can also alleviate distressing symptoms such as lymphoedema and fatigue, which debilitates 75-95 per cent of all cancer patients.

Many patients with cancer present with Pain. Pain can lead to a vicious cycle of fear, inactivity and further disability as a consequence. Physios are experts in helping patients manage pain.

It is recommended that every person with cancer receives a personalised rehabilitation care plan, which they co-develop with a multidisciplinary team which should include a physio.

For more information please see:

Cancer Rehabilitation at Emma James Physio


We offer Cancer rehabilitation treatment and management of a cancer diagnosis and throughout the cancer journey. Practioners of the PINC Cancer Rehab Physiotherapists Program. More information can be found on our Website – Cancer Rehabilitation.




Blog post by Lisa
Senior Physiotherapist

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