Better preparing cancer patients for surgery and the rigors of treatment regimens can improve patient outcomes and generate cost savings through shorter hospital stays and fewer readmissions, researchers say.
A study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation points to the results of several recent pilot programs involving cancer patients that show prehabilitation programs helped patients recover more quickly from surgeries and pursue follow-up care. The study suggests that taking advantage of a small "window of opportunity" before surgery can "improve patient outcomes and reduce direct and indirect healthcare costs."
"There's a long history of using prehabilitation in other settings such orthopedic surgeries and heart bypass surgeries," said Julie K. Silver, MD, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and co-author of the study titled Cancer Prehabilitation: An Opportunity to Decrease Treatment-Related Morbidity, Increase Cancer Treatment Options, and Improve Physical and Psychological Health Outcomes. "And our review shows there's a great opportunity to use prehabilitation to improve health outcomes for cancer patients as well."
Silver says the concept of prehabilitation has been around for decades, dating back to a 1946 pilot program in which 85% of 12,000 formerly substandard military recruits were able to pass recruitment exams after a two-month improvement program. More recently, a study of patients undergoing knee replacement surgery showed patients who exercised before their surgery recovered more quickly and had fewer complications than those who didn't exercise.