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Cancer Rehabilitation

Accredited Cancer Rehab in Southwest Florida

At our accredited Lee Health Cancer Institute, patients treated for cancer are living longer, well beyond their cancer diagnosis due to advances in early cancer detection and screening, and improvements in treatment protocols. However, many of the cancer treatments involve toxic agents or extensive surgeries that can leave side effects that limit physical functioning and quality of life. 

It has been identified that 65-90% of cancer patients will have at least one rehabilitative need as a result of their cancer treatment.  While some people experience minimal limitations, others may suffer several debilitating effects on their physical, functional, and emotional well-being or overall quality of life.

These side effects can limit one’s ability to stay active, work, and carry out other life roles. It is important to know that some side effects are experienced during treatment and others can evolve or linger for an extended period after treatment. 

What cancer symptoms can rehabilitation help with?

Comprehensive individual therapies address a wide variety of cancer related conditions and symptoms including but not limited to:

  • Aerobic deconditioning
  • Bladder and bowel dysfunction
  • Increased tiredness, fatigue (CRF)
  • Joint stiffness, range of motion limitations
  • Lymphedema (swelling)
  • Memory and concentration (Chemo-fog)
  • Numbness, tingling, neuropathy (CIPN)
  • Pain
  • Postural instability
  • Scar tissue, radiation fibrosis
  • Swallowing and speech challenges
  • Weakness
  • Walking / balance problems

As pioneers in this region for cancer specific rehabilitation, we offer a unique service to all cancer patients and survivors known as Cancer Rehab Navigation

Navigators for Rehabilitation

This is a licensed physical or occupational therapist, who specializes in cancer rehab and provides a free appointment in person or by phone to educate, identify and monitor your rehabilitative needs. Your navigator for rehab collaborates with your medical team and providers to identify and triage you to the appropriate rehab service. 

Navigators for rehab also connect you to all the services and resources available in the Lee Health Cancer Institute including nurse navigation, oncology dietitian, licensed clinical social worker, support groups, integrative services, wellness programs and Palliative care. Every patient is offered this free navigation appointment which provides a “contact person” for any needs identified throughout treatment and after treatment.

Rehab for Cancer Patients

Our Cancer Rehabilitation Team: 

Physical therapists: evaluate, educate and implement individualized treatment programs to increase physical functioning and reduce intensity of cancer related side effects that decrease overall function and quality of life. Common challenges include pain, fatigue, neuropathy, stiffness, weakness, balance, work reintegration, low endurance and deconditioning. We also have specialists in pelvic floor dysfunction, vestibular therapy and Pilates based programs.  

Occupational therapists: evaluate, educate and implement individualized treatment programs to improve one’s ability to perform activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, energy conservation, upper extremity function, fine motor coordination and work reintegration.

Speech/swallow therapists: evaluate, educate and implement individualized treatment programs to address swallowing therapy, communication enhancement strategies and vocal strengthening, along with cognitive training and memory enhancement techniques to optimize quality of life.

Certified Lymphedema therapists: evaluate, educate and treat swelling, known as lymphedema in the extremities, trunk and neck that often follows cancer treatment. This can be a result of lymph node removal and radiation. Initiation of therapy as early as possible can decrease extensive, irreversible changes that can lead to life-long management,

Specialty Programs 

Lymphedema Surveillance Program:

Early detection of Lymphedema is key to reversing or minimizing the long-term challenges and management of this condition often seen in cancer related surgeries and treatments that involve lymph node biopsy and radiation treatment. Monitoring for lymphedema is frequently used for cancer diagnoses involving breast, melanoma, prostate, gynecological, bladder, and lymphoma.

At the Lee Health Cancer Institute, we use a non-invasive, state of the art bio-impedance device called the SOZO. SOZO® uses technology, which sends a low-level electrical signal through the body. This can deliver a precise snapshot of fluid status and tissue composition in less than 30 seconds for swelling in the arms and legs. (SOZO not used to detect head and neck cancer related lymphedema).

This measure aids in monitoring fluid and tissue status in patients, which can enable earlier intervention and improved outcomes for Lymphedema management. Click on this link to learn about Lymphedema and your risks.

All newly diagnosed Breast cancer patients who are involved in the Multidisciplinary Breast Clinic are measured on the SOZO as part of our Breast Cancer Related Lymphedema Surveillance Program.

To inquire about our SOZO, contact [email protected] or call (239) 343-9586


Detecting and Reversing Lymphedema

Prehabilitation (PRE-HAB):

Prehabilitation is a program designed to help you physically prepare for cancer related surgery or treatment through participation in physical and/or occupational therapy. This occurs between the time of a cancer diagnosis and the beginning of surgery or treatment to establish a baseline functional level, identify impairments, and provide interventions that promote and optimize your physical and functional status. Prehab improves recovery time and coping ability, as well as decreasing hospitalization length of stay and complications. After your surgery or treatment, cancer rehabilitation can be continued once cleared by your referring surgeon or physician.  

Prehab is referred routinely by some providers based on your cancer diagnosis and pre-treatment physical condition. If you feel you could benefit from Prehab, contact a Navigator for rehab directly at (239) 343-9586 and we will assist you.  

Head and Neck Cancer Rehab Pathway

At the time of diagnosis, head/neck cancer patients are referred to the Speech Language Pathologist as a standard of care. This is an opportunity to complete baseline measures of swallow function, make diet recommendations for the safest diet, and reduce aspiration risks. Many diagnosed with head/neck cancer will develop swallowing deficits during treatment and some have swallowing difficulty at the time of diagnosis.

The patient is also provided with education and a home exercise program to help maintain swallowing muscle function throughout treatment. If a patient will be undergoing surgery, then pre-op education is provided regarding the impacts on speech and swallowing.

Speech/swallowing therapy may be initiated post-surgery and before starting chemoradiation. Participation in the head/neck cancer pathway provides better functional outcomes and a faster return to tolerating an oral diet post-cancer treatment. 

  • Head and Neck Cancer

    Detecting head and neck throat cancer early is crucial. Learn about non-small cell cancer symptoms and treatment options available at Lee Health Cancer Institute.

Pathway to Cancer Therapy

Pre-Surgery Educational Videos For Lumpectomy, Partial Mastectomy and Mastectomy Surgeries

The Breast Cancer Nurse Navigation team and Cancer Rehabilitation team partner to help you get ready for your Breast Cancer related surgery.

Education and instruction is presented to you in an informal setting that prepares you for your surgery, what to expect, care after surgery, activity guidelines, precautions, mobility and exercise guidance. 

View our Cancer Patient Educational Videos to improve your knowledge and readiness for surgery

Contact The Cancer Rehabilitation Program

To access the Cancer Rehabilitation Program at Lee Health, you can call 239-343-9595 to make a free appointment with the Cancer Rehabilitation Navigator or ask your oncologist or physician for a referral to the Cancer Rehabilitation Program. All fax referrals must be sent to (239) 343-9598. Otherwise referrals may end up with general therapists and not cancer rehabilitation therapists. 

 With a signed order for a specific discipline evaluation for physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and/or lymphedema therapy and fax to the number above.

Every referral to the Cancer Rehabilitation Program includes a free rehabilitation navigation interview either in person or by phone. This appointment identifies rehabilitation needs, referrals to other services including a dietitian, palliative care for pain and symptom management, the Healthy Life Center, and provision of resources for support groups, counseling, yoga, massage, acupuncture, and smoking cessation.

What is the cost of navigation services? 

Navigation for rehab is of NO COST to you. It is an appointment by phone or in-person.

The cost of rehabilitation therapy services (PT, OT, SP and Lymphedema) varies based on your insurance coverage. This also depends on if you have met your overall insurance deductible. It is always best to check with your insurance provider to determine if you have an out-of-pocket cost or co-pay. 

We understand that not all patients have insurance or the same financial circumstances. We have a variety of discount programs, payment options, and specialists who can work with you one-on-one to understand your bill, your insurance coverage, and the assistance you may qualify for.

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