Prehabilitation – getting ready for treatment

You may have heard the word prehabilitation or 'prehab' used if you or someone you love are preparing to start cancer treatment.

This page has information about what it is and how Maggie's can help.

What is prehabilitation?

Prehabilitation means getting ready for cancer treatment following a cancer diagnosis, regardless of treatment options or stage of cancer.

It's important because it can help you to:

  • Manage or improve your physical and emotional health 
  • Reduce the side effects of cancer treatments
  • Cut down time spent in hospital
  • Gain a sense of control
  • Learn how to help yourself and where to go for further support.

What areas does prehabilitation focus on?

Emotional wellbeing

Sometimes a cancer diagnosis can make you feel like everything is up in the air and it can be very overwhelming.

By finding out more about looking after your emotional wellbeing, you can navigate treatment and have a more positive experience during this process.


Eating well is something you can do to keep yourself as well as possible. 

It puts you in control and it can help you to feel better and stay strong.

Good nutrition can help you to maintain muscle, strength and a healthy body weight, improve your ability to cope with treatment and promote recovery if you do have treatment.


Research shows that being as active as possible after diagnosis may reduce complications and may help you handle and recover from treatment better.

Physical activity may help you deal with distress and anxiety, have more energy, and improve your sleep as you begin treatment.

Many people find that as they start treatment, the ability to be active may be harder.

So, starting out in better physical shape means you can cope with more activity during and after treatment.

Prehabilitation at Maggie's

We know that helping you to be more physically active and emotionally resilient before treatment can have a significant impact on how you feel after treatment.  

In all our centres, our Cancer Support Specialists can talk to you about prehabilitation and help you to understand what it means for you.

Exercise, nutrition and managing emotions before, during and after cancer are all part of our support and we're here to guide you on the right changes for your situation.

In Scotland, we also run prehab workshops in partnership with the Scottish Government.

Last review: Oct 2021 | Next review: Oct 2022

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