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Cancer and its treatments may cause a range of physical and psychological issues which can impact on your quality of life and daily living.

Specialist cancer rehabilitation can help you to address these concerns, which may be a direct result of cancer or a side effect of cancer treatment. Side effects might include:

  • weakness
  • breathlessness
  • fatigue
  • pain
  • lymphoedema (a long-term condition that causes swelling in the body’s tissues)
  • incontinence
  • difficulty with moving or walking

How we can help

Being more active can help you with the challenges and side effects of cancer treatment, and improve your quality of life. Our physiotherapists will support you with this throughout your treatment and beyond. The King’s Cancer Rehabilitation team includes a specialist outpatient physiotherapist offering telephone, video and face-to-face appointments.

An assessment with a physiotherapist can:

  • improve physical fitness, strength and confidence before treatment or surgery for cancer
  • give an individualised assessment of breathing difficulties related to cancer diagnosis and treatment
  • give exercise and physical activity education for all levels of fitness, including people with long-term complex health conditions
  • give specialist assessments of cancer-related fatigue and deconditioning to help support you through chemotherapy, radiotherapy or hormone treatment
  • restore strength, flexibility, balance, cardiovascular fitness and confidence after surgery or a long stay in hospital
  • help you understand how to live well with cancer, including exercise and rehabilitation for people living with bone metastases
  • empower you to understand how to live well with side effects, such as chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (damage to the nerves that carry messages between the brain, the spinal cord and the rest of the body)

Accessing the service

If you feel you would benefit from the service, please speak to your clinical nurse specialist (CNS) or the team at King’s Macmillan Information and Support Centre who can refer you to physiotherapy.

Once we have received your referral, we will offer you any of the following based on the information provided:

  • one-to-one consultation (either in person or by video call)
  • invite you to a group session
  • call you to discuss your rehabilitation needs
  • signpost you to online information
  • send you written information by post

We are based at the following locations:

  • King’s College Hospital, Denmark Hill
  • Beckenham Beacon, Croydon Road, Beckenham
  • Tessa Jowell Health Centre, East Dulwich

Exercise and cancer

It is safe and beneficial to exercise before treatment or surgery (also known as prehabilitation), during treatment and following cancer. If you have any concerns about exercising, please speak to your medical team or a physiotherapist before starting.

It is important to monitor your exercise intensity and cool down after any activity. You could try some simple exercise videos from Blood Cancer UK or The Royal Marsden, which are suitable for anyone living with or after cancer. The exercises will help you to move more, gradually build up your strength and find a level of activity that feels right for you.

Cardiovascular activity can be light, moderate or high intensity, and can be done lying down, seated or standing. Strength and balance are also an important part of physical activity routines, as many cancer patients notice weight loss and muscle wasting. This set of four exercise videos from St Christopher’s are designed to help you exercise safely at home.

Below are some links to trusted websites to help you get started with physical activity: