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Cancer op relapses slashed by ‘prehab’ exercises

By Jo Macfarlane

CANCER patients doing yoga, tai chi and boxing classes before undergoing surgery are less likely to be readmitted to hospital.

Patients with bowel cancer who took part in an online programme known as ‘prehab’ – which aims to improve their physical and mental health ahead of treatment – were 60 per cent less likely to return to hospital with surgical complications within 90 days. Those being treated for urological cancers reduced that risk by 50 per cent.

The personalised programme, run by QuestPrehab, offers exercise, mindfulness, nutrition and lifestyle support to help patients better withstand the stress of surgery and recover faster.

Its founder, anaesthetist Professor Tara Rampal, said it had improved patients’ quality of life and recovery times, helped them return to work sooner and saved the NHS money as they needed fewer ongoing GP appointments.

Patients also lost weight and one even saw their type 2 diabetes go into remission.

Hospital re-admissions cost the NHS £1.6billion a year, so it is hoped such programmes could help drive down the NHS’s record

‘They helped me develop a positive mindset’

7.7million waiting list for surgery.

Annemarie Moore, 61, from Haywards Heath in Sussex, had weekly tai chi classes, mentoring and advice ahead of a bowel cancer operation in 2021. Two weeks after surgery, knowing she might face chemotherapy, she resumed tai chi classes and started running.

Improving physical and mental health ahead of treatment ‘should not be underestimated’, she said.

The mother-of-two, who runs a YouTube channel offering fashion advice to over-50s, also felt able to return to filming despite her hair thinning. She said: ‘The mentoring I received enabled me to find solutions to keep things going.’

Mike Hayward, from Chipping Sodbury in Gloucestershire, had online yoga and boxing workouts for two months before bowel cancer surgery in 2021. ‘Someone effectively held my hand and gave straightforward advice,’ he said.

He then received further support before starting two months of chemotherapy. He added: ‘Having regular catch-ups really helped me develop a positive mindset and to approach things confidently.’

Prof Rampal said: ‘Our service improves [patients’] clinical outcomes and quality of life... It’s humbling to see the progress our patients achieve during some of the most challenging times in their lives and also in our NHS.’





dmg media (UK)