The Role and Scope of Prehabilitation in Cancer Care

Semin Oncol Nurs. 2020 Feb;36(1):150976. doi: 10.1016/j.soncn.2019.150976. Epub 2020 Jan 25.


Objectives: To recognize cancer prehabilitation as a pretreatment regimen to increase functional status for patients requiring cancer treatment. This article presents current evidence addressing the efficacy and benefits of prehabilitation regimens in different cancer survivor populations.

Data sources: Studies and case reports in the PubMed database.

Conclusion: Cancer prehabilitation may improve outcomes. Prehabilitation may include targeted or whole-body exercise, nutrition, education, psychologic counseling, and smoking cessation. Opportunities exist to further improve access to and delivery of multimodal prehabilitation, and nurses play a critical role in connecting patients to these services.

Implications for nursing practice: Oncology nurses who are knowledgeable of cancer treatment-related effects are poised to assess survivors for existing impairments, advocate for prehabilitation for existing and potential morbidities, and monitor functional status over time. As patient educators, they are key to informing cancer survivors about the role of prehabilitation.

Keywords: Counseling; Exercise; Neoplasms; Rehabilitation-Nursing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Exercise Therapy / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / nursing*
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Nutrition Therapy / standards*
  • Oncology Nursing / standards*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*