Evidence Grows for Benefits of ‘Prehab’ in Cancer Patients

(HealthDay News) – The goal of cancer prehabilitation, involving health interventions between the time of cancer diagnosis and the beginning of acute therapy, is to reduce the incidence and severity of anticipated treatment-related impairments, according to research published in the August issue of the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation.

Julie K. Silver, MD, and Jennifer Baima, MD, of Harvard Medical School in Boston, performed a literature review to identify early studies of prehabilitation in the non-cancer population and later research on pretreatment health interventions in cancer patients.

The researchers found that a growing body of evidence supports the concept of optimizing health in patients newly diagnosed with cancer prior to initiating acute therapy. Early research on prehabilitation in cancer patients focused on aerobic conditioning and the use of exercise regimens to build strength and stamina. More recent research suggests that other unimodal or multimodal interventions may decrease morbidity, improve health outcomes (physical and psychological), increase the number of potential treatment options, decrease hospital readmissions, and decrease direct and indirect costs of cancer care.

“This review provides an exciting ‘jumping-off point’ for cancer researchers to look more closely at how to improve outcomes from the moment of diagnosis onward,” Silver said in a statement.

Silver is the cofounder of Oncology Rehab Partners, a company that develops programs for the training and rehabilitation of cancer patients.

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