Australia’s first review of cancer rehabilitation services has found that just one in 200 patients have access to exercise services that could aid their recovery.
This is despite the fact that exercise and rehabilitation can aid recovery, even during intensive treatment.
The study, led by La Trobe University, examined 31 hospital-based cancer rehabilitation services. The researchers are now urging health providers to boost rehabilitation programs and make them standard in cancer care.
Lead researcher and PhD student Amy Dennett said there were few rehabilitation services for cancer survivors in Australia compared with those available to people with other chronic diseases.
“When you are admitted to hospital with a heart attack, you will be routinely referred to a specialised cardiac rehabilitation program yet if you are diagnosed with cancer you can often be left to navigate this yourself,” she said.
There are numerous reasons why cancer rehabilitation was not more widely used.
“The idea of exercising after receiving a cancer diagnosis can be confronting as people are often overwhelmed with medical appointments and experiencing debilitating side-effects such as fatigue,” Ms Dennett said.
Some health professionals also lack confidence referring their patients to rehabilitation or are simply unaware of these programs or their benefits.
“Historically, patients have been advised to rest, but there is growing evidence that exercise and rehabilitation can have a positive effect on their physical and psychological wellbeing,” Ms Dennett said.
“Our study found that having a pro-active oncologist is key to overcoming these barriers.”
Read more about this research here. Story credit: La Trobe University newsroom.
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