Cancer rehabilitation may improve function in survivors and decrease the economic burden of cancer to individuals and society

Julie K. Silver, Jennifer Baima, Robin Newman, Mary Lou Galantino, Lillie D. Shockney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cancer and its treatment may cause physical impairments and psychological distress in survivors. Rehabilitation is a critical component of quality cancer care, returning survivors to their highest functional potential. Objective: This overview focuses on the benefits of multidisciplinary cancer rehabilitation-including improving physical function, reducing psychological distress, promoting return to work and, therefore, decreasing the economic burden of cancer and its treatment on individuals and society in general. Methods: Relevant literature was identified through a search of the PubMed database and reviewed for its relevance to cancer rehabilitation and the topic of this article. Search terms included, but were not limited to, cancer rehabilitation, cancer prehabilitation, disability, return to work, employment, and unemployment. Results: Cancer survivors are less likely to be employed and take more sick leave than workers without a history of cancer. Pain, musculoskeletal issues, deconditioning, fatigue, balance, psychosocial issues, and lymphedema are most amenable to rehabilitation. Conclusion: Overall health and the need for work accommodations must be addressed in order to improve return to work and subsequent productivity in cancer survivors. Survivors are usually best served by a multidisciplinary care team comprising members who can address the myriad impairments affecting survivor function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-472
Number of pages18
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013


  • Return to work
  • cancer-related impairments
  • disability
  • prehabilitation
  • survivorship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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