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, exercise and wellbeing has many important benefits such as: 

  • Helping you take control during times of uncertainty.
  • Making you less vulnerable to the side effects of treatment which allows you to cope better and recover quicker.
  • Improves your long term health and your quality of life. 

What is prehabilitation?

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 and mentally. However, there are a number of things you can do to help manage the changes you may be experiencing or the way you feel, which will enable you to take back some control.
This process of taking back control and getting prepared for cancer treatment is called ‘prehabilitation’ or “prehab”. Prehabilitation is a new concept focusing on supporting patients before treatment. Traditionally, rehabilitation happens after treatment.

What are the benefits of prehabilitation?

Evidence has shown that taking the time to prepare before treatment through exercise, nutrition and improving your wellbeing can:
  • Maintain independence and reduce your reliance on others, helping you to do the things that matter to you.
  • Improve your mood and wellbeing. 
  • Improve your general strength, fitness and confidence. 
  • Improve your nutrition, ensuring you have enough “fuel” for the treatment ahead. 
  • Reduce the complications and side effects of treatment.
  • Improve your response to future cancer treatments.
  • Speed up your recovery and return to work.
  • Enhance your quality of life. 
  • Promote your long term health and wellbeing, reducing the chance
    of cancer coming back.

What does prehabilitation involve?

Prehabilitation involves making some changes to your health and wellbeing to get you fitter, stronger and more prepared for your treatment. For some people it’s about making changes to maintain their current level of health or stop them getting worse prior to treatment. Prehabilitation can also help address some of the side effects you maybe experiencing such as fatigue, poor appetite, pain or worry and anxiety.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer or are preparing for treatment there are five steps you can follow to reduce complications and improve your recovery, these are:

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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