Role of PHYSIOTHERAPY in treating cancer Patients

Dr. Rajendra Khatri

Sr. Consultant Physiotherapist and yoga expert

Unit Head,

Physiotherapy Unit, NCHRC

“Physiotherapy is a drugless therapy” concerned with identifying and maximizing quality of life and movement potential within the spheres of promotion, prevention, treatment intervention, habilitation and rehabilitation”.

Physiotherapy in cancer care

Physiotherapy is concerned with the care, management and rehabilitation of patients which is effective through all care and rehabilitation programs from diagnosis to the end of life care. Despite advances in medical treatments there are some limitations during and after the treatment such as cancer-related fatigue (CRF), pain, nerve damage, lymphedema, deconditioning, as well as incontinence. This is where the role of  physical therapy comes. There is strong evidence to support conservative management of these impairments through physical therapy. As each individual experiences different impairments during and after cancer treatment, it is important to have an individualized evaluation to focus on whether the physical therapy required or not. Physical therapy can address cancer related common impairments including:

  • Lymphedema: Effective lymphedema management is accomplished through manual lymph drainage, range of motion exercises, aerobic exercise, and lymphatic bandaging.
  • Cancer Related Fatigue (CRF):Individualized aerobic training, strength training and functional management trainings are helpful to reduce cancer related fatigue both during and after cancer treatments.
  • Pain: There are many pain relief strategies that can reduce the intensity and frequency of pain after cancer treatment. Specifically, treatment strategies including soft tissue mobilization, therapeutic massage, therapeutic stretching and strengthening.
  • Peripheral neuropathy: Often times, cancer survivors experience peripheral neuropathy, which is abnormal nerve function that can be experienced as pain, numbness and tingling. Physical therapy can help to improve nerve function or compensate for nerve dysfunction.
  • Deconditioning: Rebuilding endurance for activities and cardiovascular function can be difficult during and after cancer treatment. A skilled physical therapist will be able to educate and monitor cardiovascular endurance training.
  • Genitourinary complications: For men undergoing treatment for prostate cancer and women undergoing treatment for bladder or ovarian cancer, incontinence and sexual dysfunction are common. Physiotherapy can help to rebuild the strength of the pelvic floor in order to improve urinary in continence and reduce pain related to sexuality function.


Role of Yoga in Cancer care


Cancer patients who practice yoga regularly during their treatment and after treatment it helps better recovery and better quality of life. No matter how sick and how weak the patients be, the healing power of yoga helps both cancer patients and cancer survivors. When battling cancer, the worst part is not just the symptoms of the disease itself, but often the discomfort and debilitating fatigue brought on from cancer. Whether faced with the scar-tissue of surgery or ongoing nausea and weakness from chemotherapy or radiation, cancer patients endure a long road of physical trials.But as many cancer patients and cancer survivors are discovering, there are ways to strengthen their bodies and deal with the uncomfortable side-effects of treatment, both during and after treatment. As the interest in more holistic approaches to healing is growing, yoga therapy for cancer patients and cancer survivors is emerging as one of the more successful methods for combating the physical discomfort of cancer and cancer treatment.

Yoga has various benefits for cancer patients and cancer survivors. Some of its benefits are:

  • Clearing out Toxins from Cancer Treatment,
  • Reducing Stress and Anxiety,
  • Better sleep as well as improve appetite
  • Yoga as Exercise for Cancer Patients
  • Yoga as Holistic Healing for Cancer Patients


  • The main objectives of physiotherapy are: pain relief, increase strength and endurance and to stop the recurrence.
  • We generally focus on the customized exercises depending on the patients and their conditions. The exercises are to be followed in the set of 10 repetitions and 5 sets.


Physio Facts

Physio facts

Physio facts