Oncology Rehabilitation

What is Oncology Rehabilitation?

Oncology Rehabilitation is a specialized area of physical therapy with the goal of helping patients along their cancer journey. Ideally, the patient will be seen after a diagnosis of cancer for a prehab evaluation where initial measurements of strength, range of motion, balance and a postural assessment will be taken. The patient will also be educated on the process of recovery and the best exercises to do after surgery. The patient will then begin their treatment protocol with their medical team which may include some or all of the following: chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.

Conditions we treat
  1. Side effects of chemotherapy
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle and joint pain
    • Weakness
    • Sensory changes, including numbness and tingling, in hands and feet
    • Constipation
    • Balance impairments
    • Osteoporosis
  2. Side effects of surgery
    • Pain
    • Scar tissue
    • Limited range of motion
    • Weakness
    • Swelling
  3. Side effects of radiation
    • Pain
    • Weakness
    • Hardening of skin tissues
    • Swelling/Lymphedema
    • Postural changes
    • Limited range of motion
    • Fatigue
    • Decreased activity tolerance

Treatment for cancer has the potential to affect every system of the human body. As our bodies try to fight the disease, it compensates the best way it knows how. Upon completion of treatment, the body still needs help to recover from the learned strategies that were necessary for survival. A PT can help with this recovery, in addition to providing assistance with side effects during treatment. By combining manual techniques with specific exercises and education, each patient has the potential to move forward and lead a healthy, active and functional life.


One area in which physical therapists can be useful is in managing cancer-related fatigue. Fatigue is experienced by up to 90% of patients treated with radiation therapy and up to 80% of those treated with chemotherapy

Breast cancer

In a 2019 systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies, breast cancer survivors who were the most physically active had a 42% lower risk of death from any cause and a 40% lower risk of death from breast cancer than those who were the least physically active.

Colorectal cancer

Evidence from multiple epidemiologic studies suggests that physical activity after a colorectal cancer diagnosis is associated with a 30% lower risk of death from colorectal cancer and a 38% lower risk of death from any cause.

Prostate cancer

Limited evidence from a few epidemiologic studies suggests that physical activity after a prostate cancer diagnosis is associated with a 33% lower risk of death from prostate cancer and a 45% lower risk of death from any cause."