Purple Cancer cells
Health and Lifestyle,  Therapy World

Role of Occupational Therapy in Cancer Management

Today, February 4th is World Cancer Day. It is a day set aside to spread awareness, encourage prevention, early detection and treatment. Cancer is a terrible condition that can affect any organ of the body. It can be cured if detected early, however, it can also be terminal depending on the stage it is discovered. Treatment of cancer often includes surgery, radiation therapy or hormonal therapy, and chemotherapy. There is always a side at any stage of the disease and that’s where cancer rehabilitation comes in.

The goal of cancer rehabilitation is to help the patient function better despite the side effects of the disease. The cancer rehabilitation team always consist of the doctor, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, rehabilitation nurse, social worker, psychologist speech therapist, prosthetist, and orthotist.

Image source: NUBAWIE

Dietz JH defined the goal of cancer rehabilitation as ‘to improve the quality of survival of cancer patients so that during that period of survival they will be able to lead as independent and productive a life as possible at a minimum level of dependency, regardless of life expectancy”

Every member of the team plays a unique role in the treatment and management of cancer. However, in this article, I will be emphasizing on the role of an occupational therapist in cancer management.

The goal of occupational therapy (OT) is to help an individual achieve maximum independence in every aspect of their life. That is why OT practitioners use a holistic approach in their treatment. OT intervention will usually depend on the stage of the disease. Occupational therapy intervention aims to maximize the patient’s function and independence by reducing the impact of the disability the disease might have caused.

Examples of Occupational Therapy Intervention in cancer management

  1. Aiding participation in activities of daily living like dressing, eating or bathing through the use of assistive technology or adaptions of the activity or environment
  2. Improving cognitive functions, memory, organizational skills, the executive function that might have been lost during the course of the disease
  3. Restoring engagement in meaningful occupation
  4. Return-to-work intervention
  5. Lifestyle management such as exercises, healthy living, fitness plans and so on. This can also include helping the patient identify their strength and adapt a positive coping strategy
  6. Educating patients on energy conservation and relaxation techniques to help manage fatigue
  7. Sleep management
  8. Therapeutic exercises and proper positioning to improve mobility, strength and range of motion. Some of these include splinting, bed positions, home exercises.
  9. Managing Lymphedema to control limb swelling
  10. Pain management
  11. Home/environmental modification to improve safety and independence in the home
  12. Play therapy for paediatric oncology

The role of the occupational therapist goes beyond assisting only the patients, they can also assist the caregivers and family members by teaching them how to encourage maximum function in the patient. Also, the occupational therapist can educate and help the family adjust to the role changes and adaptation that might happen as a result of the treatment.


Cancer is a deadly disease that can affect every aspect of the patient’s life, an occupational therapist in collaboration with the other members of the cancer rehabilitation team can help the patient cope better and improve the quality of life of the patient.

Will you like to speak to an occupational therapist? Then go to https://grandhealth.co/ to schedule a free consultation.

I look forward to your comments

My name is Mabel. I am an Occupational therapist, who enjoys creating engaging contents. I love partying, eating, travelling and reading. And Oh, I am always available to talk business. Contact me!


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