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Why was the Cancer Recovery Arc created?

Healthcare and wellness providers needed a model that more aptly defined the cancer journey through the point of recovery.  Although cancer is a very individualized process in both the progression of the disease and in how treatment affects a person, there are patterns to care that enable us to utilize a framework like the Cancer Recovery Arc to create survivorship care plans and to engage in a realistic conversation about recovery time.

 

After many years of drawing this diagram for clients, I began to use it in my classes too. It served as a practical tool for massage practitioners to understand the need for more gentle work and for exercise specialists to understand the need to train from the "new normal", and to be cautious in the goal setting process.

Check out the CRA in Action!

Here are two examples for the same patient with a diagnosis of breast cancer.  The first example would be if the patient only required surgery.  In the second example, the patient requires surgery and external beam radiation.

Note that these are assumed times for treatment and recovery (1,2).  The state of wellness, age, comorbidities and treatment related complications can extend the recovery time. For simplicity, there is no delay from diagnoses to start of surgery and start of radiation. For a patient arc all time between treatment would also be included.

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Treatment
  • Lumpectomy
  • Axial Node Excision
  • No procedural or healing complications
  • Released to resume "normal" activities
Recovery
  • 15 days following release to "normal" activities
Example 1 with radiation.jpg
Treatment
  • Lumpectomy
  • Axial Node Excision
  • 30 Sessions of External Beam Radiation
Post Treatment Cumulative Effect
  • Fatigue (3)
Recovery
  • 9 weeks following the completion of treatment. Note that this time may be extended by the 3 weeks of fatigue that is a post-treatment cumulative effect