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Cancer. 2001 Aug 15;92(4 Suppl):970-4.

A history of cancer rehabilitation.

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Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey 07103, USA.


More than 8 million people in the United States have a history of cancer and more than 1 million new cancers are diagnosed each year. The 5-year survival rates for most tumors continue to improve due to earlier detection and treatment strategies. With increased cancer survival rates, there is a greater need for physiatrists (physicians trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation) to coordinate rehabilitation services and prepare a comprehensive plan for treatment and follow-up. Rehabilitation for patients with cancer should be no different from rehabilitation for other diagnostic conditions. The ultimate goal should be the achievement of the highest functional status possible within the limits of the disease and the patient's choices. Physiatrists have training that enables them to assess functional disability, biomechanics, quality of life, and human development, as well as the knowledge to prescribe appropriate medications, modalities, and orthotic, prosthetic, and assistive devices. An examination of the history of cancer rehabilitation will steer us toward future success for our patients. It is important that past lessons direct us away from pitfalls, and that patients receive the rehabilitation services to which they are entitled.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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