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4 Cancer Side Effects You Can Fight with Cancer Rehabilitation

Cancer RehabilitationCancer and its treatment can take a toll on your whole body. While your oncologist will help you with medication, physical, occupational and speech therapists can also help with noninvasive treatments designed to improve your quality of life.

Cancer rehabilitation programs are scientifically backed ways to help relieve side effects of both cancer and treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These programs can help you during active treatment and into survivorship as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Cancer rehabilitation can help with a variety of side effects, including:


Pain is a common problem for patients with cancer. You may experience pain due to the cancer itself, surgery or radiation therapy.

Your physical therapist can use many treatments to help relieve pain, including:

  • Massage
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Stretching to relieve stiffness
  • Strength training to improve muscle function
  • Low-impact exercise like walking or swimming to boost energy

Your physical therapist will design a treatment plan specifically to relieve your pain and address its causes.


Fatigue is another common problem caused by either cancer or its treatment, especially chemotherapy.

Though it seems unlikely, exercise can actually help improve fatigue. Weight training can help you maintain muscle strength and bone density. Short walks each day can boost your mood and help reduce pain or swelling. All forms of exercise can help improve your sleep, giving you more energy to get through your day.

Your physical therapist and physician can work together to ensure that your exercise program is safe for you.

Trouble Speaking or Swallowing

Patients who have cancer that affects their head and neck may have trouble speaking and swallowing. Radiation therapy can also cause these side effects.

Speech therapists specialize in improve your ability to talk, swallow and eat. They can create a plan that includes exercises that help you move your jaw and throat as well as techniques to make swallowing easier and more comfortable.


You can experience different types of swelling during cancer treatment. You may experience edema (fluid retention) or pain and swelling in your joints.

Physical therapists can help with both types of swelling. Your physical therapist may help you with treatments like:

  • Compression stockings
  • Exercises to reduce swelling or edema
  • Raising the affected area when you sit
  • Ice to reduce swelling in joints
  • Therapy to encourage fluid drainage

These are just a few of the side effects you can find relief from with help from physical therapists. A comprehensive treatment plan can help you feel better no matter what treatment you need.  

Learn more about the cancer rehabilitation program at Bon Secours and how we help patients across Richmond lead a better life during cancer treatment.