"It depends on the type of cancer and also the wishes of the patient, who may choose to have a second or even third opinion before making a decision," said Silver. "But even though the window of opportunity in many cases is small, a lot can be done with even a few weeks."
Smoking cessation programs are one example. "People who stop smoking even for just a short period of time have better recovery times from all types of surgery and shorter hospital stays that result in cost savings," said Silver. Other programs that focus on swallowing exercises have helped patients recover quicker from cancers affecting the neck or throat.
Silver says the most effective approach in cancer patient prehabilitation is to conduct a physical assessment at the time a patient is diagnosed. Based on that information, and the type of surgery the patient plans to undergo, a targeted plan can be created to strengthen specific areas of the body.
"For patients undergoing surgery for prostate cancer, we've shown that exercises that strengthen areas around the pelvis and abdomen can help reduce the incidence of urinary incontinence after surgery," said Silver.