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Cancer. 1990 Feb 1;65(3 Suppl):742-51.

Current issues in cancer rehabilitation.

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Division of Hematology/Oncology, UCLA-San Fernando Valley Program, Sepulveda 91343.


Many patients with cancer enjoy long-term survival and are cured; others may live for extended periods while receiving specific treatment for cancer. This has been accomplished with increasingly complex and multimodal therapy, along with heightened toxicity and longer treatment. Cancer has become a chronic disease for many patients. Contemporary cancer rehabilitation provides a coordinated approach that addresses the physical, psychosocial, vocational, and economic concerns of the patient. Key components of a cancer rehabilitation program should include initial needs assessment with periodic reassessments, direct provision of specific interventions, and referrals to appropriate community resources. Almost all patients with cancer can benefit from a rehabilitation assessment and intervention. Important rehabilitation issues include the physical toxicity of treatment, psychosocial concerns, sexual dysfunction, diet and nutritional concerns, pain management, and vocational and economic problems. Patient groups with unique rehabilitation problems include patients with head and neck cancer or breast cancer, and patients who have undergone osteotomies or amputations. Long-term cancer survivors also have special rehabilitation needs that relate to the delayed effects of treatment on normal tissues, gonadal dysfunction, second neoplasms, employment discrimination, and difficulties obtaining health and life insurance coverage. Rehabilitation assessment and intervention should be incorporated into the routine health care of patients with cancer.

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