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Oncology Physiotherapy


In the wake of the King's diagnosis and various cancer awareness months in the beginning of the year, I would like to highlight the ways in which physiotherapy can help you through an emotionally and physically tough time.

After working first hand with cancer patients at the oncology centre in St George's Hospital I am intimately aware of the struggles the diagnosis can present for patients and family members. It is evident that people usually are not aware of the support that Physiotherapy can provide as the treatment is usually very medically focused.

Physiotherapy can play a large role in rehabilitation, maintenance and palliative care for cancer patients, starting from diagnosis through to hospital stays. Alongside the appropriate medical treatment physiotherapy can be used to assist with maintaining independence and function. Support from physiotherapy is offered in the form of assessments of needs, therapeutic interventions, cognitive and psychological aspects, nutrition, community support, education and many more areas. 

An important physical element is understanding your exercise tolerance and how to pace yourself if you struggle with breathlessness or fatigue. We, as physiotherapists, can equip you with a wide range of tools to help you cope better with activities of daily life such as breathing techniques, supportive aids, and movement modifications. Once you have established a helpful pace to match your everyday activities, trying to improve your exercise tolerance through a personalised exercise program can help you maintain your independence. 

Pain management is a key part of your journey and using manual therapy, massage and postural drainage, we can address symptoms of reduced movement, tightness, and swelling.  On top of supporting your movements a physiotherapist can take the time to assess your home environment and help you make useful adaptations to assist easy and safe manoeuvring around your home. 

This is a glimpse into the support a physiotherapist can offer along your journey and I hope that it encourages people to think about how physiotherapy could personally assist you.

By Caitlin Erlank

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