"Surviving cancer takes more than surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. It takes rehabilitation, and ideally, include prehabilitation, according to Julie Silver, MD, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School.1,2 Silver learned about the importance of oncology prehabilitation and rehabilitation the hard way—by having cancer herself in 2003. Recovering from grueling treatment for breast cancer at 38 years old, she was surprised at how ill she was. There was no aftercare in place, and with no mention of cancer rehabilitation she really struggled to recover and go back to work. She said, “I did some exercise testing, and I tested out as a woman in her 60s. So I had aged three decades in a matter of months through cancer treatment.
Silver realized there was a sizeable gap in oncology services available to patients. Utilizing her training as a physiatrist, a physician specializing in nonoperative treatment of musculoskeletal problems, she initiated a program of prehabilitation before cancer treatment as well as rehabilitation therapy after treatment. Launched in 2009, STAR Program (Survivorship Training and Rehabilitation) certified rehabilitation is offered by many facilities throughout the United States. Cancer rehabilitation addresses the findings of the 2010 National Health Interview Survey. The survey results demonstrated that many of the health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) difficulties experienced by cancer survivors are physical.4 In that study, investigators evaluated 1,822 cancer survivors and 24,804 persons who had never received a cancer diagnosis.4 Although almost 25% of survivors reported being in poor physical health, only 10.2% of those with no history of cancer said their health was poor.4 When asked about mental health, 10.1% of survivors reported being in poor mental health, while only 5.9% of persons who had no cancer diagnosis said their mental health was poor.4 Silver noted that there is often a significant overlap between the physical and psychological components of distress experienced by cancer survivors, creating a real need for rehabilitation that is rarely delivered."
Via Susan Zager