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- Looking after your health before surgery
Looking after your health before surgery
Talk with your surgeon about ways you can look after your health before surgery. The suggestions below may improve your strength, help you cope with side effects and lead to a smoother recovery. For some people, improving their physical health means they become fit enough for surgery.
Stop smokingIf you smoke tobacco or vape, aim to quit as soon as possible. Continuing to smoke or vape can increase the risk of complications after surgery, and delay your healing and recovery time. Quitting smoking or vaping can be difficult – for support, talk to your doctor or call the Quitline on 13 7848.
ExerciseSurgery places a strain on the body, including the heart and lungs. Exercise will help build up your strength to cope with recovery and reduce the risk of complications after surgery. Talk to your doctor or physiotherapist about the amount and type of exercise that is right for you, and any precautions to take.
Improve nutritionHealthy food can help your body cope with the stress of surgery, improve your strength, and assist with your recovery. A dietitian can suggest foods to eat to ensure you get enough energy and protein. They may also recommend you have special drinks (nutritional supplements).
Avoid alcoholTalk to your doctor about your alcohol use. Alcohol can affect how the body works and increase the risk of complications after surgery, including bleeding and infections. Drinking even small amounts of alcohol increases the risk of developing some cancers, so it’s best to avoid alcohol after a cancer diagnosis.
Talk to someoneYou may find it useful to talk to a counsellor about how you are feeling. This can help you deal with any anxiety you are feeling about having surgery, and help you feel more in control.
Prof Elisabeth Elder, Specialist Breast Surgeon, Westmead Breast Cancer Institute and University of Sydney, NSW; Chanelle Curnuck, Dietitian – Dietetics and Nutrition, Sir Charles Gairdner Osborne Park Health Care Group, WA; Department of Anaesthetics, Perioperative Medicine and Pain Medicine, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Jessica Feeney, Nurse Unit Manager, Breast, Endocrine and Gynaecology, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; A/Prof Richard Gallagher, Head and Neck Surgeon, Director of Cancer Services and Head and Neck Cancer Services, St Vincent’s Health Network, NSW; John Leung, Consumer; Rohan Miegel, Senior Physiotherapist – Cancer Care, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; A/Prof Nicholas O’Rourke, University of Queensland and Head of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Royal Brisbane Hospital, QLD; Lucy Pollerd, Social Worker, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Suzanne Ryan, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Department of General Surgery, Sunshine Coast University Hospital, QLD; Rebecca Yeoh, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland.
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