After a fight with cancer, everything is different. That is why oncological rehabilitation involves a variety of interdisciplinary measures that enable patients to regain as much of their independence as possible, despite their disease and the debilitating cancer therapies.
The attending surgeon or oncologist will consider ordering rehabilitation if a patient has severe functional limitations and/or strong reactions to chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Inpatient rehabilitation may also be prescribed if a patient is malnourished, or if they cannot be provided with sufficient medical care at home. If a patient is being fed artificially, has a newly created stoma, a wound healing disorder or drainage tubes for removing wound secretion, these are all additional reasons for opting for inpatient rehabilitation.
While patients are undergoing rehab, regular discussions and examinations are carried out to monitor their physical and psychological situation. A team of medical specialists and consultants, psychiatrists, psychologists and specialised nurses will identify any changes and implement the necessary measures. Beyond this, a wide range of therapies – from exercise and nutrition therapy to art, music and occupational therapy – are also used to boost the patient’s well-being and ensure the best possible recovery. An appropriate atmosphere, hotel-style services and excellent catering also support patient well-being during the rehabilitation process.
Patient discharge organised well in advance
Oncological rehabilitation clinics organise each patient’s departure well in advance and in consultation with the patient’s family. Medical professionals determine what kind of resources the family has to provide care at home and what resources are available from external oncological care providers. They also arrange check-up appointments with the surgeon and oncologist. Recommendations regarding nutrition and exercise are discussed with the patients before they leave the clinic and they are also given information to take home.
An overview of the three types of rehabilitation
After a patient has had a tumour surgically removed, the surgeon meets with them to discuss the possibility of inpatient rehabilitation. An inpatient stay is mainly necessary if the patient has to be fed via a tube or has a recently created stoma. However, inpatient rehabilitation may also be required if drainage tubes are still being used to remove wound secretion or the patient’s wounds are not healing properly.
The rehab programme focuses primarily on functional disorders affecting the body, but also takes into consideration psychological changes and mental anguish. Depending on the infrastructure and the medical and nursing expertise available at the rehabilitation clinic, patients can be transferred to rehab at a very early stage in their recovery process.
Cancer and chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy treatments often have a profound physical, psychological and social impact. Oncological rehab can address these issues before they start or develop further. Targeted oncological rehabilitation can take place any time after a patient has been diagnosed with cancer. It is prescribed by the attending oncologist in consultation with the patient. The aim is to improve the patient’s quality of life and make it easier for them to re-integrate into everyday life and return to work.
In Switzerland there are more than 317,000 people living with cancer. 60,000 were diagnosed between two and five years ago. These people still require follow-up care and check-ups. Outpatient rehabilitation can be used to provide these services, as long as the patient no longer needs to be in hospital or in care, yet still requires the assistance of a variety of medical specialists.