Patients with advanced cancer can benefit from a rehabilitation program combining exercise, nutritional counselling and symptom control, according to an evidence review in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). Palliative care programs should be expanded to include these elements and should be available to patients from diagnosis.
"Cancer rehabilitation is a process that assists a person with a cancer diagnosis to obtain optimal physical, social, psychological and vocational functioning within the limits created by the disease and its treatment," write Dr. Martin Chasen, Division of Palliative Care, Élisabeth-Bruyère Hospital, Ottawa, Ontario, with coauthors.
Evidence from rehabilitation programs at several Canadian hospitals show improvement in fatigue and physical endurance, symptom alleviation, mood and quality of life after embarking on specialized nutritional and exercise regimens. The Jewish General Hospital and the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, Quebec and Élisabeth-Bruyère Hospital, Ottawa, operate rehabilitation programs and have reported on patient outcomes.