Walking (mobility) problems

If you have problems moving around because of cancer or its treatment, the right equipment, advice and support can help.

Cancer and mobility problems

Sometimes, cancer or treatment side effects can affect how easy it is to walk and move around (your mobility).

This might be a short-term problem as your body recovers from a treatment, such as surgery or chemotherapy. Or it may be a change that you are likely to have for a long time, or permanently.

Problems moving around can make simple tasks difficult. These tasks might include:

  • getting in or out of bed, or up and down stairs
  • getting dressed
  • making a meal
  • getting into a car or taking the bus or train.

Getting help with mobility problems

If you have problems moving around, the right equipment, advice and support can help.

This might include:

  • Mobility aids

    Such as walking sticks, frames or a wheelchair or mobility scooter.

  • Specialised equipment

    For example handrails, a raised toilet seat, a seat for the shower, furniture risers, or a sit stool for the kitchen.

  • Making changes in the home

    A walk-in shower or a ramp over door steps may help.

  • Someone to help you

    If you have difficulty with tasks such as getting dressed, shopping or transport to appointments

  • Benefits and help with money

    You may be able to get disability-related benefits or help with money. If you need help with money you can talk to our advisers by calling 0808 808 00 00.

  • Help with transport

    For example, you can get help with parking through the Blue Badge Scheme.

Your GP, cancer doctor or nurse can tell you what support is available and how to access it. They may also arrange for you to see a:

  • Physiotherapist (PT) - PTs give advice and support about exercise and mobility.
  • Occupational therapist (OT) - OTs give information, support and equipment to help with everyday tasks.

Your doctor, nurse, PT or OT can also help you manage symptoms or side effects if these are making mobility problems worse.

You may also be able to get help coping with mobility problems through social services. A healthcare professional can usually refer you or you can contact social services yourself. You can find details of social services in your area on socialcareinfo.net.

Social services will usually offer you a needs assessment. This means a social worker, OT or nurse will ask you questions about your daily routine and things you find difficult. This can help them assess what you need and what care or equipment they can give.

How much does help cost?

The NHS can provide care, support and equipment for free.

Social services may ask you to pay some of the cost of any support they offer. This depends on your financial situation. You may be entitled to extra benefits to help you get care. You will never be charged for support unless you have agreed to pay for it.

Other sources of help

Charities or voluntary organisations such as the ones listed here may provide equipment or help in some areas. Some services are free. You may pay for others.

  • Age UK

    Age UK may provide home help and extra help around the house.

  • British Red Cross

    The British Red Cross may provide volunteers who can help you with shopping and errands, like posting letters and changing library books. They also lend equipment, such as wheelchairs and commodes, and provide a service to take people to hospital.

  • Local volunteer schemes

    In some areas these can provide someone to visit you at home, or help with household jobs. They may also offer support or help for carers. Your GP, cancer doctor or nurse may be able to tell you about local schemes that offer support. If you have an OT or PT, they may also be able to help. You could also check notice boards in your GP’s surgery, look online, or visit your local library or community centre.

You may decide to pay privately for equipment or help at home. It is often useful to ask social services for a needs assessment and advice, even if you plan to do this. Social services can provide a list of local approved providers.

Private agencies providing care at home must be registered:

The UK Homecare Association can give you details of home care providers that follow its code of practice.

The following websites provide information about buying equipment yourself, including advice about different products and possible VAT exemption:

Going home from hospital

If you are in hospital, your team will plan any support you need so you can manage safely at home. They will arrange this before you are discharged.

Try to think about your home and how able you are to move around. Are there any day to day tasks that will be difficult for you? If you are worried about your mobility or how you will manage, tell someone in your healthcare team as soon as possible.



Your feelings and mobility problems

Mobility problems can mean you have to make changes to your day to day lifestyle. You may find simple solutions that mean you adjust quite easily. But it can also cause anxiety, loss of confidence and other difficult feelings.

Sometimes, changes to mobility can get worse over time or become permanent. If this happens, you may need to change how you view what is normal for you.

There is no right or wrong way to cope, but help is there if you need it. Talking about your feelings and worries to a partner, family member or friend may help.

You can also talk to us on 0808 808 00 00. Or you may find it helps to talk to other people going through the same thing. Our Online Community is a place you can share experiences and find others who understand.