THE STATE OF CANCER REHABILITATION IN AUSTRALIA K. Lisy, L. Denehy, R.J. Chan, F. Khan, A. Piper, M. Jefford Vol.1 (2018), pag. 9-13
Accepted after revision
Australia has a large and growing population of people living with and beyond cancer. The dominant model of post-treatment cancer care is specialist-led and focused on detection of cancer recurrence, however there is increasing attention towards cancer rehabilitation to maximise the health and wellbeing of people affected by cancer. Peak national cancer bodies are calling for person-centred care that is responsive to the holistic needs and issues experienced by people with cancer, and recognizing the need for health care systems and services to adapt in order to effectively and efficiently meet this challenge. A variety of rehabilitation practice and research initiatives are currently underway nationally; we provide key examples of strategies that aim to meet physical and psychosocial needs of cancer survivors while highlighting the inadequacy of existing rehabilitation services to meet the needs of the Australian cancer population. Despite the growing evidence base supporting a range of rehabilitation practices however, cancer rehabilitation is not part of usual care in Australia. Challenges include limited awareness of rehabilitation services among both patients and health care professionals and a lack of sustainable funding to support rehabilitation programs. These challenges support the need for ongoing multidisciplinary approaches to cancer rehabilitation and for coordination of efforts nationally to progress cancer rehabilitation policy, practice and research. Future opportunities include development of a minimum dataset of rehabilitation outcomes, utilization of emerging digital health technologies, routine assessment of patients’ needs, and further development and evaluation of efficient and effective models of survivorship care. We call on policy makers, clinicians, researchers and consumer groups to collectively advance the agenda of cancer rehabilitation in Australia and work towards optimizing outcomes for patients.