Cancer prehabilitation and its role in improving health outcomes and reducing health care costs

Semin Oncol Nurs. 2015 Feb;31(1):13-30. doi: 10.1016/j.soncn.2014.11.003. Epub 2014 Dec 3.


Objectives: To examine the current state of cancer prehabilitation care and the impact that it may have on health-related and financial outcomes.

Data sources: Clinical trials, reviews and meta-analyses.

Conclusion: Research demonstrates that prehabilitation interventions may improve physical and/or psychological outcomes and help patients function at a higher level throughout their cancer treatment. Establishing a baseline status at diagnosis provides an opportunity to gain insight into the burden that cancer and its treatment can place on survivors with respect to physical and psychological impairments, function, and disability. Targeted interventions may reduce the incidence and/or severity of future impairments that often lead to reduced surgical complications, hospital lengths of stay, hospital readmissions, and overall health care costs. Thus, cancer prehabilitation is an opportunity to positively impact patient health-related and financial outcomes from diagnosis onward and, by decreasing the financial impact that cancer can have on individuals, may prove to be a sound investment for patients, hospitals, payers and society.

Implications for nursing practice: Nurses, and particularly navigators, have an opportunity to significantly impact care through patient screening, prehabilitation assessments, documentation of baseline patient status and, in some cases, especially when impairments are not present at baseline, provide interventions designed to improve physical and psychological health before the start of upcoming oncology treatments and reduce the likelihood of patients developing future impairments.

Keywords: Prehabilitation; cancer rehabilitation; cancer survivorship; preoperative exercise; presurgical exercise.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cost Savings*
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / economics*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neoplasms / nursing
  • Neoplasms / rehabilitation*
  • Neoplasms / surgery
  • Nurse's Role
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / economics
  • Preoperative Care / methods*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States