What is self-management? 

Self-management means empowering yourself and taking control of your own health. You can do this by learning skills to help you cope with the changes and issues that you may experience during and after your cancer treatment. Self-management recognises that you are the expert on ‘self’: your body and your health. 

Self-management can involve: 

  • Reducing the impact that cancer and its treatment have on your quality of life. This includes the side-effects you experience during and after your treatment. It also includes side-effects you may experience months or even years after treatment. We call these side-effects late effects 
  • Changing your lifestyle behaviours to improve your quality of life. Benefits include managing side-effects and reducing the risk of your cancer coming back. Lifestyle behaviours you can change include: 
    • Improving eating habits and reducing alcohol consumption 
    • Increasing exercise 
    • Quitting smoking 
    • Reducing sun exposure
  • Looking after yourself and your health to prevent new health issues from occurring
  • Monitoring your health 
  • Recognising symptoms that may need investigation before your scheduled appointments 
  • Keeping and attending your appointments 
  • Understanding the importance of regular, scheduled check-ups

How can self-management help me live with, or after cancer? 

Cancer survivors experience issues before, during and after treatment. 

You may be able to self-manage some physical and emotional issues. Learning how to manage the issues you’re experiencing can be helpful. So too is learning how to prevent new issues or health conditions from arising. Self-management and taking an active role in looking after your health can:

  • Improve your quality of life 
  • Help you to feel more in control 
  • Reduce the impact that the issues you are experiencing have on your day to day life 
  • Get you back to the activities you used to enjoy doing and that give you a sense of fulfilment 
  • Help you with returning to work or study

Issues you may be able to self-manage include: 

  • Fear of your cancer coming back or progressing 
  • Cancer-related fatigue 
  • Anxiety and depression 
  • Issues with your thinking and memory 
  • Pain 
  • Difficulty sleeping

The Common Survivorship Issues Directory provides useful resources and information. It includes common issues experienced by cancer survivors. Use this directory to learn about the issues you are experiencing and ways you can self-manage.


man on a bike

What does self-management look like? 

There are lots of things you can do to start taking an active role in looking after yourself. Below are some examples of how you can self-manage. You may already be doing some of these things and not realise that they are self-management tools and strategies. 

What resources are available to help me? 

It is important to talk to your doctor or your cancer treatment team at the hospital. You can talk about the activities you can do at home and in your everyday life. Talk about how you'll manage any issues caused by your cancer or cancer treatment. They can provide you with helpful information, resources and tools. If you don’t have a regular doctor, search Health Direct to find one in your local area.  

Community and non-government organisations also have helpful information, resources and tools. Ask your doctor or cancer treatment team at the hospital about organisations that can help you.