Cancer Rehabilitation Program

The Mass General Cancer Center Rehabilitation Program provides personalized one-on-one consultations to help patients with cancer regain physical abilities and maintain independence.

Overview

Cancer and its treatments can make it harder for patients to function as they normally would and to perform everyday activities. The Mass General Cancer Center Rehabilitation Program helps patients regain physical abilities and maintain independence.

Expert, Personalized Care

Our program is personalized to meet a patient's individualized needs, and our experts aim to improve pain, function and quality of life at all levels of cancer diagnosis and treatment. Patients:

  • Meet with a doctor with specialized training in physical medicine and rehabilitation for an in-depth evaluation
  • Have access to a team of oncology therapists, including physical and occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists
  • Receive advice/tips on daily living, adapting to changes, learn how to handle both temporary and long-term side effects

The program welcomes patients with a history of cancer who have any impairments due to their cancer diagnosis and/or treatment. These include:

  • Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy
  • Lymphedema
  • Back pain from cancer, metastases or prior treatment for cancer
  • Arm, leg or joint pain from cancer, metastases or prior treatment for cancer
  • Neck or shoulder pain
  • Deconditioning, weakness and fatigue
  • Nerve dysfunction
  • Cognitive issues
  • Swallowing issues
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty opening the mouth (trismus)
  • Balance and gait difficulty
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Bladder incontinence
  • Sexual dysfunction

Goal: Improve Function and Quality of Life

The Mass General Cancer Center Rehabilitation Program strives to improve function and quality of life for each patient.  Patients may ask their treatment team for a referral to the program, or patients can reach out directly to set up an appointment.

Meet the Team

  • Sasha E. Knowlton, MD

    Dr. Sasha Knowlton is an Instructor and the Assistant Director of Cancer Rehabilitation in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. She completed her medical degree at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. She attended residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital/Harvard Medical School, where she served as Chief Resident, followed by a fellowship in Cancer Rehabilitation at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

    Dr. Knowlton is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Her clinical and research interests are in cancer rehabilitation, with the goal of improving the function and quality of life of cancer patients during all aspects of cancer treatment and survivorship.

FAQs

What is cancer rehab?

Cancer and its treatments can make it harder for you to do activities or to function everyday as you normally would. Cancer rehabilitation, often referred to as cancer rehab, helps patients get their physical abilities back and maintain their independence.

How can the Mass General Cancer Center Rehabilitation Program help me?

Mass General Cancer Center has a rehab therapy program that can help you live your best. The program is personalized for you to meet your needs. You will:

  • Meet with a physiatrist, a doctor with training in physical medicine and rehabilitation, for an in-depth evaluation
  • Have access to a team of experienced oncology therapists, including physical and occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists
  • Receive advice/tips on daily living, adapting to changes, learn how to handle both temporary and long-term side effects
The Cancer Rehabilitation Program strives to improve function and quality of life for each patient.
What can I expect at my appointment?

During your appointment, you will have a physical and health history review with your physiatrist to help create a management plan made just for you.

Depending on your needs, you may have additional testing such as tests of strength and balance, blood tests, and/or x-rays. Your physiatrist may also recommend a procedure such as an EMG (Electromyography) or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). These procedures will be fully explained to you.

Your physiatrist will also talk with you about any medications that may be prescribed for you.

How can I prepare for my appointment?

Write down any questions that you have and bring this list with you. It may be helpful to bring a friend or relative with you to help you remember information.

How can my physiatrist help me after this appointment?

Your physiatrist will refer you to other therapists who will all work together as a team. As part of your management plan, your physiatrist will be an on-going point of contact for you.

Is the Cancer Rehab program right for me? What are some issues the program can help me with?

The Cancer Rehab Program welcomes patients with a history of cancer who have any impairments due to their cancer diagnosis and/or treatment. Impairments can include:

Pain

  • Back, arm, leg or joint pain
  • Neck or shoulder pain
  • Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy

Swelling

  • Lymphedema

Trouble functioning

  • Deconditioning, weakness and fatigue
  • Nerve dysfunction
  • Cognitive issues (memory, attention, thinking, language)
  • Trouble swallowing, speaking or opening your mouth
  • Mobility issues (trouble with walking, transfers, or balance)
  • Bowel incontinence
  • Bladder incontinence
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Trouble with activities of daily living

Talk to your treatment team if you are experiencing any other problems not listed here.

How can I get involved?

Provider Referrals

Ask your treatment team for a referral to the Cancer Rehab Program.

Self-Referrals

You can also reach out directly.

View the Cancer Rehabilitation Program Flyer

Contact

Patients may ask their treatment team for a referral to the program, or patients can reach out directly to set up an appointment.

Dr. Sasha Knowlton sees patients at the following locations:

Mondays:
MGH Physical Medicine Associates
5 Longfellow Place, Suite 201
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: 617-643-2420

Tuesdays & Wednesdays:
Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital
300 First Avenue
Charlestown, MA 02129-3109
Phone: 617-952-6220

Fridays:
Mass General/North Shore Cancer Center
102 Endicott Street
Danvers, MA 01923
Phone: 978-882-6060

Back to Top