Worldwide statistics indicate that currently two out of every three people diagnosed with cancer will have a long-term cure. Without doubt, cure is the most important outcome in cancer care. Having said that, it is also important to focus on outcomes beyond cure. Consider the following examples of people (names changed), all of whom have achieved cancer cure.
1. Mr Chandrsashekar, a marketing professional, treated for tongue cancer.
2. Mrs Radhika, university teacher, treated for breast cancer.
3. Mr Prakash, who manages a cloud kitchen, treated for low rectal cancer.
Mr Chandrashekar’s profession demanded good communication among colleagues and customers. “How long will it take to speak well after surgery? What will be the quality of my speech? Will people be able to understand what I say?” These were his concerns.
Mrs Radhika’s problems were different. “I heard it will be difficult to raise my arm up after surgery – will I be able to write on the blackboard? How long will I have to take leave from work during chemotherapy?”
Mr Prakash had other issues. “How frequently will I have to use the toilet? Will I need to use a diaper? For how long?”
Rehabilitation is an integral part of cancer care. Ideally, it starts from the day of diagnosis, and not after completion of treatment.
In addition to physical needs, rehabilitation must address emotional, occupational, and social needs as well. Furthermore, the rehabilitation has to be optimized based on the individualized needs of the person, social and occupational support available, as well as access to specialized healthcare.
To summarize, rehabilitation is an important aspect of cancer care and must take place alongside oncological treatment.