There is a lot of evidence that pre-treatment rehabilitation (prehabilitation or pre-hab) both speeds up and benefits a patient’s recovery after surgical orthopedic treatment for knee and hip replacement as well as cardiac conditions. Having pre-hab, which is often covered by insurance after orthopedic surgery, is pretty standard.

Now, based on an article published in Kaiser Health News, cancer survivors who do pre-hab prior to their beginning treatment may recover more quickly from surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. Despite this there is little, if any, insurance coverage for cancer treatment pre-hab. Our current medical insurance system is not designed to treat future problems, but instead is designed to treat existing ones.

Intuitively, I believe like in the case of orthopedic surgery, people’s health during and after invasive surgery, a toxic course of chemotherapy or radiation to treat cancer can be improved by being as physically and psychologically fit as possible prior to the treatment. But research to examine the impact of pre-hab in cancer survivors is very limited (

Now is the time for more research into pre-hab for cancer care. We need to better prepare cancer survivors, both physically and emotionally, for treatment. We need to provide the evidence that pre-hab will minimize recovery time as well as improve a survivor’s quality