Prehabilitation for Cancer

Graphic: Prehab for Cancer logo - Hand shapes forming heart

Personalised Cancer Care
Richard Dimbleby Education Room, Level 6
Torbay Hospital
Lowes Bridge
Torquay TQ2 7AA

Tel: 01803 656693 (Answerphone available)
Email: Personalised Cancer Care

Our new Prehabilitation for Cancer service is a pilot project designed to help you and your body prepare for future cancer treatment. Making a small number of changes now, can make a big difference to the way in which you respond and recover from your treatment.

Funded by Macmillan Cancer Support, and led by a personalised care occupational therapist and nurse, the pilot is initially being offered to adults within the following groups of cancer: lung (prior to commencing chemotherapy), prostate (on hormone therapy) and head and neck (for all patients).

What is Prehabilitation?

Prehabilitation is a positive step in supporting you to prepare for treatment by promoting healthy behaviours. It is a programme of support and advice. It can help with:

  • Moving more and being as active as possible
  • Looking after your diet by eating well
  • Keeping hydrated by drinking enough fluids, especially water
  • Supporting your mental wellbeing

We can also support you to stop smoking and reduce your alcohol consumption as this will also help while you’re having treatment, with your recovery, as well as improving your overall health.

Benefits of Prehabilitation

Benefits may include:

  • Reduced treatment side effects
  • Improvements in your mood and reducing anxiety
  • Better energy levels
  • Enhancing your quality of life

Some people report improvement within as little as little as two weeks.

Prehabilitation for Cancer Pilot

Prehabilitation for Cancer aims to provide access to personalised exercise advice, nutritional support and psychological well-being interventions provided by health care professionals and exercise specialists trained to work with patients who have cancer.

Prehabilitation helps to build resilience to treatment by reducing some of the common side effects, and improving your long-term health. Lead by a Personalised Care Occupational Therapist and Nurse, the pilot is initially being offered to a small group of patients with a diagnosis of lung, prostate or head and neck cancer.

What will it involve?

Discussions with health care professionals and access to interventions that are important to you, promoting physical and psychological wellbeing. There are opportunities for meeting one to one, face to face or online and planned group work to develop peer to peer support. We encourage you to bring a friend or family member.

Exercise: It is important to be as active as possible as this keeps your heart and lungs strong and will help your body cope better with any current or future treatments. Any activity that makes you feel slightly out of breath is beneficial. If you are already active, continue as you are, or if you feel able, do a little more. If you are not currently very active or feel you could do more, this is the perfect time to start. Reduced movement adversely affects muscle tone which can affect strength and balance. A combination of strength and cardiovascular exercise can help you to feel stronger, fitter and more confident.

Psychological support: There is no right or wrong way to feel when you have a cancer diagnosis, and different feelings can show up throughout your cancer pathway. What is perhaps most important is to acknowledge how you are feeling and do the best you can to be kind and compassionate to yourself. Each person is different, so it is good to find out what will support you best with whatever particular worries or challenges you meet along the way.

Nutritional support: Eating a variety of foods from all food groups is beneficial to overall health and wellbeing. This may help you to cope with the symptoms and side-effects of cancer and cancer treatments. As part of the programme you will be advised on ways in which to improve your diet.


Referrals to the Prehabilitation for Cancer service can be made by healthcare professionals by completing our referral form.

Useful resources

Exercise videos

This programme from Macmillan Cancer Support features a series exercises for warming up your muscles, working your heart and lungs, and to improve the strength and tone of your muscles.

Move more – 01 – Warm Up

Move more – 02 – Cardio

Move more – 03 – Strength and endurance

Move more- 04 – Cool Down

Online exercise classes for cancer patients undergoing treatment

This is a list of free online resources, which include various exercise videos. Please tell your doctor or health professional if you are making a significant change to your activity levels, follow their advice and build back to being active in small steps.

The Acorn Cancer Support Group is very good source for exercises whilst seated, some of which could be used whilst undergoing your treatments.

Penny Brohn UK is a charity providing cancer health and wellbeing care. They have a range of resources including movement and exercise videos.

MOVE Charity – Supporting you in your journey to Moving Against Cancer.

Macmillan leaflets

Macmillan leaflets are available, please ask for copy or view online:

Useful links

Macmillan – After a cancer diagnosis, many people find that following a healthy, balanced diet and staying active helps give them back a sense of control.

Cancer Research UK – Research has shown that exercise is safe, possible and helpful for many people with cancer..

Drinkaware digital tools can help you assess, track and set goals to reduce your drinking and improve your health.

Torbay 5K Your Way – Meet under the blue 5K your way meeting point flag. Introduce yourself to any of the team prior to the event and they will be happy to walk or jog with you. It is about doing what you can manage if you can’t manage the whole route that’s absolutely fine. Success comes in small steps!

Sleepio is a digital therapeutic intended for the improvement of poor sleep and the management of Insomnia Disorder in adults aged 18 years and older, as an adjunct to their usual medical care.

MySunrise is an award winning Cancer Companion App designed by NHS cancer teams for NHS cancer patients. Supporting patients every step of the way through treatment at their local NHS cancer centre.

Charity support