Clinical Specialties : Cancer Rehabilitation

Cancer Rehabilitation

With the number of new cancer diagnoses increasing each year, cancer continues to be a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States. In the past, many individuals lost the battle to cancer typically within a few months or years of diagnosis. As our ability to screen for and detect cancer at earlier stages improves, and as our treatments continue to improve, patients are often living many years beyond the date of their initial diagnosis. According to the American Cancer Society, there are more than 13.7 million cancer survivors living in the U.S today. While survivorship is of utmost importance, many patients continue to deal with toxic effects of chemotherapeutic agents and radiation exposure for years after treatment concludes. And while many specialists focus on treatment and surveillance of cancer survivors, quality of life concerns are often forgotten.

The field of Cancer Rehabilitation was created to treat patients suffering from the secondary conditions that often arise either from the cancer itself, or from the treatments administered. Simply put, cancer rehabilitation can be described as the field focused on restoring quality of life and function to cancer patients. Conditions such as chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathies, fatigue, pain syndromes, lymphedema, and radiation plexopathies are examples of the many conditions treated by the cancer rehabilitation team. The concept uses a team approach, as well as a combination of medications, modalities, and interventional procedures to restore function to patients suffering from all stages of disease.

Laura Y. Huang, MD
Assistant Professor