Cancer Rehabilitation

1 in 2 Canadians will develop cancer over the course of their lifetime, with half of these cancers being breast, prostate, lung and colorectal.  

Once diagnosed, the focus for a patient and their physician quickly shifts to how to treat the disease.  Depending on a number of factors, treatment may include one or more of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and hormone treatment.

These treatments may be necessary to treat the cancer, but can have side effects that can have a large negative effect on the quality of the life a person is now living.


Physiotherapy is a largely under-utilized profession within cancer care. 

Physiotherapists specializing in oncology rehabilitation consider all aspects of a biopsychosocial approach to engage, and empower, patients in their recovery. Physiotherapists work with their patients to achieve meaningful goals to help improve quality of life. Physiotherapy can help to reduce pain, improve mobility and strength, increase participation in activities of daily living and/or hobbies and increase ability to exercise. Watch the video below to hear Leigh explain our approach to treating patient’s having an experience with cancer and why this is so important to her.

Physiotherapy is helpful at any stage after a diagnosis of cancer.  Patients can be pre or post surgery, during chemotherapy, radiation or hormone therapy, or years after treatment is completed.  Physiotherapists with training in oncology rehabilitation can work with patients with any form of cancer, but the most commonly seen are breast, prostrate, and gynaecological. 


What to Expect

Your physiotherapist will spend time discussing your history and treatment to date, and will focus the assessment on discussion of your primary concerns and your goals.  This is essential to ensure the most optimal and safe treatment plan is created. 

A physical exam will occur looking at your body as a whole and the area of cancer examined more specifically. If you have had breast cancer, this would involve examination of the affected side and screening for lymphedema. If cancer or treatment has impacted the urological or reproductive systems, the physiotherapist may recommend that the assessment include a pelvic exam. At Diane Lee & Associates we have physiotherapists with expertise for both men’s and women’s pelvic health.

During the assessment your physiotherapist will identify any physical issues that may be impacting your ability to reach your goals.

After this, a treatment plan and recommendations will be discussed

If treatment is recommended (i.e. scar mobilization, manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, yoga therapy, or clinical Pilates), this will be discussed and follow up appointments planned.  Depending on a patients goals and what the treatment plan involves, they may be seen weekly or once every few weeks or months.  Each plan is tailored to fit each individual.

Please wear comfortable clothing to your appointment, and bring names/contact information for your medical team (Family Physician, surgeon, oncologist), as well as a list of medications.  Any recent scans or blood work reports are helpful as well.