Preparing for Treatment (Prehabilitation)

If you have been diagnosed with cancer, it’s important to prepare for any potential treatment ahead. Evidence shows that paying attention to your nutrition, activity levels and wellbeing has many important benefits.

What is prehabilitation?

Traditionally, cancer rehabilitation happens after treatment to help patients recover from the effects of their treatment. Prehabilitation is a concept that focuses on supporting you before your treatment. The better you feel before any treatment starts, the easier your journey will be, and your recovery after treatment will be quicker too. Prehabilitation simply means to prepare for your treatment.

Cancer may have already affected your appetite or the things you are able to do on a day-to-day basis. Cancer treatment can also be a challenge for you physically, mentally, socially and emotionally. There are lots of things you can do to manage the changes you may be experiencing or the way you feel. This will enable you to take control and continue doing the activities that are important to you.

What are the benefits of prehabilitation?

Evidence has shown that preparing for treatment through physical activity, good nutrition and looking after your emotional wellbeing can:

  • Reduce complications and side effects that are associated with cancer treatment to help speed up recovery.
  • Enable you to do the things that matter to you.
  • Work towards an active lifestyle
  • Help you to feel more resilient and confident
  • Improve your mood and help manage anxiety and stress
  • Improve nutrition and make sure you have enough ‘fuel’ for the treatment ahead

What does prehabilitation involve?

Prehabilitation is an opportunity for you to focus on your health and wellbeing. It is a chance to get stronger and fitter as you prepare for your treatment. It is also a chance to take some time-out to focus on your mental and emotional wellbeing. Doing this will help you to manage the side effects that you may be experiencing, such as fatigue, reduced appetite, stress, worry or pain.

Prehabilitation involves 5 steps:
1. Increase your activity levels.
2. Improve your diet.
3. Improve your psychological and emotional wellbeing.
4. Stop drinking or reduce your alcohol intake.
5. Stop smoking or smoke less.

You can find more information to support you to take these steps on our webpages. Simply select the section(s) above that interest you to learn more.

Further support and help:

The advice on these pages is designed to help you prepare for the treatment ahead and support you through to recovery. If you are awaiting surgery, further information on preparing for your operation can be found here.

If you need further advice and support please discuss this with your key worker or healthcare professional.

  • Cardiff and Vale University Health Board Cancer support line:
    02920 745655  (9:00am to 12:30pm and 1:30pm to 4:00pm)
  • Macmillan Cancer Support:
    0808 808 00 00
  • Maggie’s Cardiff:
    029 2240 8024
  • Tenovus Cancer Care:
    0808 808 1010
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