Cancer Rehabilitation:

What is cancer?

Cancer is a broad term for a class of diseases characterised by abnormal cells that grow and invade the healthy cells in the body. It can impact on any part of the body.


How is it treated?

The main strategies for treating cancer are chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. During your treatment you may require some or all of these treatment strategies. Often this treatment can cause unpleasant side effects. These symptoms can affect everyone in different ways. These symptoms could include breathlessness, fatigue (feeling tired all the time), muscle and joint pain, muscle weakness, painful, tight surgical scars and sensory changes that can effect your balance.


How can physiotherapy help?

 The Association of Chartered Physiotherapist’s for Oncology and Palliative Care are equipped with the necessary skills to help address and manage the potential sides effects of cancer treatment. Physiotherapy can help you achieve the goals that are personal to you, such as returning to work, taking part in exercise or guiding you on managing symptoms such as pain, breathlessness and fatigue.  Your physiotherapist will spend time with you to ensure that the goals you set are manageable and realistic for you in line with the treatment you are receiving or have received.

At Hallamshire Physiotherapy we may be able to help you. We want to give you back your confidence to remain safe with your daily routines and encourage you to stay as independent as possible before, during and after your treatment.

Have a look at the different sections of how physiotherapy can be of help from initial diagnosis to treatment and follow up care.

Please call Hallamshire Physiotherapy to talk to our cancer specialist who will be happy to answer any questions you may have and discuss how physiotherapy may be of benefit to you.


Patients can be seen before and or after their surgery. Visiting Hallamshire Physiotherapy you will be able to receive advice on what to expect following surgery, exercise and postural guidance, scar tissue management as well as strategies for optimising your recovery. Advice will be specific to you, taking into consideration the location and type of surgery you are to receive.


Chemotherapy affects everybody differently. At any stage of your treatment, people can often feel very tired and anxious that they may have lost some of their previous fitness. During this period, physiotherapy will involve gentle exercises, stretches and relaxation using techniques such as Tai Chi and Pilates. This will help you maintain a level of function so that you can take part in daily activities, such as household and personal care tasks. Guiding you to remain as independent as possible throughout your treatment. Some people may experience changes in sensation that can often make you feel ‘off balance’, physiotherapy can help with strategies to help manage and accommodate these symptoms.


To help optimise the effects of radiotherapy, it is important to have good range of movement around the site where the radiotherapy will be directed. For example, if you have had recent breast or lung surgery you may have restricted shoulder movement, or recent head/neck surgery restricting your neck movement. Alongside advice from you Cancer Doctors, physiotherapy can help improve range of movement and management of scar tissue.  Stiffness may also occur in muscles and bones following radiotherapy. Physiotherapy can provide advice on stretches, scar tissue management and safe exercise prescriptions weeks, or even months after your treatment has finished.  Radiotherapy can also leave you feeling very tired, making day-to-day activities difficult. Your physiotherapist can help manage these symptoms and deliver advice on pacing your activities throughout the day.

Breathlessness and fatigue management:

The effects of cancer can leave you feeling very tired and sometimes out of breath, even when you are resting. This can be a result of the cancer itself or during/following treatment. Physiotherapy can use techniques such as Tai Chi, breathing cycles and relaxation techniques to help give you back control on managing these symptoms to allow you to pace your day to keep you as independent as possible.

Exercise prescription:

During and after treatment, patients are often concerned over whether it is safe to exercise. Physiotherapy can provide specific and patient-centred exercise advice that addresses your exercise goals. From going for a walk to the shops, attending the gym, to returning to sports such as golf, pilates or tennis we can help answer questions such as:

Is it safe to exercise?

What exercise can I do?

Are my symptoms normal?

I haven’t done much exercise in the past, is it too late to start?

I am in pain and my muscles feel tight, can I still exercise?

Please call Hallamshire Physiotherapy to talk to our cancer specialist (Hannah Strudley)  who will be happy to answer any questions you may have and discuss how physiotherapy may be of benefit to you.