A study looking at the rehabilitation needs of people who have had cancer of the digestive system or gynaecological cancer

Cancer type:

Cervical cancer
Oesophageal cancer
Ovarian cancer
Stomach cancer
Womb (uterine or endometrial) cancer





This was a study to find out more about the rehabilitation needs of people who’d had cancer treatment. The people taking part had a gynaecological cancer or a cancer in the upper part of the digestive system Open a glossary item such as stomach cancer or oesophageal cancer.

Following cancer treatment, some people may have long term physical and emotional difficulties. These can affect their health and quality of life, making it difficult to return to the life they had before. Getting back to normal can be called a process of rehabilitation.

In this study, researchers wanted to learn more about the rehabilitation needs people have after cancer treatment.

Summary of results

The researchers found that support and information is important to help people get back to normal.

The study recruited 33 people who took part in 1 of 5 focus groups. They had all had treatment for a gynaecological cancer or a cancer in the upper part of the digestive system. And they all had some physical or emotional problems related to having cancer.

In the focus groups, people discussed what they understood about rehabilitation and what they thought helped them get back to normal. The researchers analysed the discussions and found there were 4 main themes.

The impact on the person highlighted how people lost their confidence and felt uncertain after treatment. The most common problems people talked about were physical weakness (debility), weight loss, tiredness (fatigue) and problems thinking (cognitive ability).

Adjustment after treatment showed that anxiety and low mood could also be barriers to coping and getting back to normal.

Individualised tailored support is something that can help people to adjust and feel less isolated. But some people were unsure who to contact for support. And some felt there was a lack of support at the end of their treatment.

Information sources were discussed. Some people felt they’d been given too much information at the wrong time. Others said they would have liked more information earlier. Most felt that it was too general for them.

The researchers found that peoples’ needs for information and support varied, as did their awareness of the rehabilitation services available to them. People who’d had surgery or had been in hospital for longer were more likely to have come into contact with healthcare professionals who could help with their rehabilitation and to be aware of what was available.

Many of the people in this study thought their follow up appointments focused more on looking for early signs of the cancer coming back and checking what they were able to do, rather than asking about their quality of life Open a glossary item or the consequences of treatment.

Seeking a new normal was the phrase the researchers used to describe the overall message from the groups.  They found that people needed individualised support at the end of treatment and suggested that things could be improved with more professional guidance.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr Clare Shaw

Supported by

The Royal Marsden Charitable Panel
The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 7828

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Cara took part in a clinical trial

A picture of Cara

"I am glad that taking part in a trial might help others on their own cancer journey.”

Last reviewed:

Rate this page:

No votes yet
Thank you!
We've recently made some changes to the site, tell us what you think

Share this page