Physiotherapy works: cancer survivorship
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Physiotherapy-led exercise is clinically effective and can help cancer patients improve their quality of life.
Physiotherapy exercise is clinically effective
Size of the problem
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
Cancer and its various treatments are associated with a wide range of
distressing physical and psychological symptoms, which can affect
patients for many years following the end of treatment.
Exercise can improve quality of life for cancer patients, regardless of the type and stage of their disease.(1) Inclusion of physiotherapy-led exercise within cancer pathways can reduce and prevent disability.(2)
Specialist physiotherapy can also alleviate distressing symptoms such
as lymphoedema and fatigue, which debilitates 75-95 per cent of all
Evidence shows that exercise reduces the risk of cancer recurrence and mortality.
Mortality can be reduced by 50 per cent,(4) 40 per cent(5) and 30 per cent(6) in bowel, breast and prostate cancer respectively.(1)
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
Excessive weight gain and loss can be a problem for many patients,
depending on their treatment, stage and type of cancer. Specialist
physiotherapists are vital for maintaining healthy weight and preventing
muscle-wasting in cancer patients.(8)
Physiotherapy reduces future health complications, improves body image(3) and can improve an individual’s ability to return to work.
Some cancer treatments can reduce bone quality leading to
osteoporosis, increased risk of fragility fractures, pain and
disability. Physiotherapy exercise can reduce bone loss and the
likelihood of falls in patients with poor bone density.(10)
Patients with cancer may present with problems managing pain – physical, psychological and spiritual in nature.(3)
Pain can lead to a vicious cycle of fear, inactivity and further
disability as a consequence and therefore increase length of hospital
stay.(11) Physiotherapy has been shown to reduce the length
of inpatient stays –with fewer nights as an inpatient representing
better quality of life and cost savings to the public sector.
Case study: Breast cancer rehabilitation service at Bart's Hospital, Bart's Health NHS Trust
This specialist out-patient service provides rehabilitation for all
patients who undergo treatment for breast cancer. It is based on best
available evidence and recommendations from the national Cancer Action
Team breast rehabilitation pathway:
- Patients are assessed by a specialist physiotherapist in the
post-operative phase for the main sequelae, including loss of shoulder
mobility. Education and advice on self-management and referrals for
ongoing physiotherapy are provided here as required.
- Ongoing physiotherapy care includes manual treatment, exercise and advice on self-management and return to work
- Patients are re-assessed at key stages in the cancer pathway
including during chemotherapy/radiotherapy and at end of treatment, when
a six-week group education programme is available to ease the
This service has resulted in:
- fewer delays to radiotherapy due to poor shoulder mobility
- improved self-management
- early identification and management of consequences of treatment
Survivorship and work
- In England, the estimated cost to the economy, from the loss in work productiity of cancer survivors in 2008, was £5.3 billion.(12)
Physiotherapy exercise is signifcant in managing the longer term side
effects, helping people return to work, reducing recurrence following
remission and increasing survival and quality of life (1)
- A Cochrane review reported exercise and patient education or counselling led to higher return-to-
work rates than usual care (odds ratio = 1.87), bringing significant economic benefits (13)
- Cancer survivors are 1.4 times more likely to be unemployed than matched controls. Exercise
can result in a significant reduction in medium-term economic burden
associated with unemployment and long term sick leave (14)
- In the UK over 300,000 people are diagnosed with cancer annually; half are of working age.(1)
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Our Physio & Rehab Expertise
Specialist Rehab Group works with specialist physiotherapists and specialist rehab therapists who are highly trained, qualified, experienced and passionate to provide high level of expert care to our patients.
Areas of specialization
- physiotherapy: back and neck (spine), sports, shoulder, hip, knee, ankle
- hand therapy: forearm, wrist, hand and fingers
- podiatrist: leg, calf, ankle, foot and toes
- read more on our specializations here
All our therapists are fully insured and registered with Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC) and Traditional Chinese Medicine Board (TCM). See our entire team here by location and specialization.
Initially, our specialist physiotherapists will carry out a thorough
assessment, helping them to select the most appropriate treatment to
help you recover. They then provide
expert treatment for your pain as well as prescribing specific
exercises to reduce your risk of re-injury and giving you a long term
To call for inquiries or appointments, please contact us at:
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SPECIALIST REHAB APPOINTMENTS & ENQUIRIES
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We are a wholly Singapore Private Limited group of licensed physiotherapists, hand therapists, podiatrists, chiropractors, sports massage therapists, clinical pilates practitioners and TCM physicians practicing in our scope of rehabilitation and its areas of specializations. As listed in our website are the list of services we provide our clients as referred by their medical doctors or by self referrals/word of mouth.
The range of rehabilitation results vary from patients to patients, depending on a variety of factors and reasons such as severity of condition, genetics, gender and age. However, we will still deliver the best evidence-based-practice of physiotherapy, hand therapy, TCM, sports training and deep tissue release therapy that we can deliver.
The information available on this site is for educational purposes only, if you need a full professional advise on physiotherapy, hand therapy and occupational therapy, please schedule an appointment with us by contacting our staff by Call/SMS/WhatsApp at xx, thanks!