Rehabilitation for Cancer Survivors: How We Can Reduce the Healthcare Service Inequality in Low- and Middle-Income Countries


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Abstract

Cancer diagnosis often substantially affects patient's physical, psychological, and emotional status. Most patients with cancer experience declining of energy, activity levels, social-cultural participation, and relationships. In addition, cancer progression and adverse effects of aggressive cancer treatment often cause debilitating pain, fatigue, weakness, joint stiffness, depression, emotional instability, limited mobility, poor nutritional status, skin breakdown, bowel dysfunction, swallowing difficulty, and lymphedema leading into functional impairment and disability that can be addressed through rehabilitation care. Comprehensive care models by involving cancer rehabilitation have resulted in significant improvement of patient's quality of life. Although cancer rehabilitation has been implemented in many high-income countries, it is either not yet or suboptimally delivered in most low- and middle-income countries. In this review, we discussed gaps regarding cancer rehabilitation services and identified opportunities to improve quality of cancer care in developing countries. Future collaborations among international organizations and stakeholders of health care delivery systems are required to initiate and improve high-quality cancer rehabilitation in the developing countries.

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