According to an evidence review published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), patients with advanced cancer can benefit from a rehabilitation program that combines exercise, nutritional counseling, and symptom control. Palliative care programs should be expanded to include these elements and should be available to patients from diagnosis, as indicated on a CMAJ news release. The CMAJ news release notes that programs for people with earlier stage cancer combine diet and exercise, but few programs include patients with advanced cancer.

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 CMAJ news release notes that 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.

Martin Chasen, MD, along with co-authors, writes, “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.”

The authors of the study write, “When caring for patients, we may limit our horizons if we fail to recognize the influence of their psychological state, nutrition, physical activity, symptoms and functional status on their disease and response to therapy. A truly comprehensive care program will incorporate elements that address each of these aspects.”

The authors suggest that cancer centers should add rehabilitation services as part of the ongoing care of patients with advanced cancer.

The authors of the study conclude, “We propose that current evidence and community expectations are sufficient to encourage Canadian cancer centers to consider establishing full rehabilitation research models for patients with advanced cancer.”

Source: Canadian Medical Association Journal