Lung Cancer: Rehabilitation

After treatment for lung cancer, you may experience shortness of breath, and you may find you have less endurance even during simple activities such as walking or shopping. You may also find it difficult to keep your lungs clear of congestion.

At Memorial Sloan Kettering, a team of physical and occupational therapists will work closely with your team of doctors to help you manage these side effects. Our Post-Operative Pulmonary Program is led by a multidisciplinary team of rehabilitation experts that includes physical therapists and respiratory therapists, as well as your nurses and medical team.

Physical Therapy after Surgery

Following surgery, our experienced physical therapists perform a comprehensive chest physical therapy evaluation that focuses on how your lungs sound, if you can take deep breaths, and how well you can cough and manage phlegm (the thick mucous that lines the airway and lungs). They will also take a look at how well you can do things like get out of bed and walk.

After your evaluation, we’ll give you a personalized rehabilitation plan that addresses any challenges and outlines goals. This proactive approach to postoperative care helps to maximize your ability to breathe and get around, with the goal of allowing you to return home feeling steady and strong.

Breathing and Respiratory Therapy

Our respiratory therapists will work with you to assess your breathing and coordinate with your doctor to provide treatments that will help you to breathe better. Following surgery you may receive oxygen therapy and use a type of inhaler called a nebulizer that turns liquid into a fine spray. Some patients also benefit from a respiratory treatment known as continuous positive airway pressure therapy.