Chemotherapy - can I dive?

The Big "C"... In previous years a death sentence; today, many people not only survive cancer, but return to their lives. Many remain in long-term remission or are even considered cured. So, the question is - when do I know if I can dive?

There are many considerations when it comes to cancer and diving. The situation should be individualised. Two individuals with the same cancer, treatment, and outcome may not be equally fit to dive.

In general fitness to dive issues are considered at three levels: Neuropsychological issues; Physical Issues and Social Issues.
  • Neuropsychological issues greatly affect the ability to function safely and effectively in the diving environment. Being fully conscious and fully alert are essential. Chemotherapy and certain cancers may affect this - either temporarily or long-term. This is an important consideration. There should also not be an unreasonable risk of sudden incapacitation or loss of consciousness. Depending on which organ or organs are affected, this may vary. Brain, immune system and lung cancers carry the greatest concern. Breast, prostate and skin cancers may have fewer implications, unless they have spread elsewhere. Chemotherapy may cause fatigue, forgetfulness and lethargy weeks after the course is completed. It is best to have a professional dive medical opinion on this.
  • Physical issues may include reduced exercise tolerance and the usual physiological processes such as lowered immunity and impaired blood clotting. These factors may affect divers detrimentally and may even be life-threatening. 
  • Social issues. Initial diving medical assessments for recreational diving are really prompted by the need to lower the liability of the dive training organizations and to provide informed consent to the participating students. After qualifying, though, the onus lies with the respective divers to evaluate their health status - and its changes over time. Many therefore disregard fitness issues completely based on their perceived individual human right to take the risk. The problem is that there is a social implication: A diver who becomes incapacitated jeopardises their buddies and the other divers. At the very least it spoils the day for everyone. At worst, it causes more than one injury or fatality. Diving without being fit to do so is intrinsically selfish. Make sure you consider the safety of others before subjecting them to an unknown risk - you!

When we consider medication and diving, we usually look at the condition, the drug and the impact of diving:
  • Each cancer has its own intrinsic risks.
  • Chemotherapy can cause damage to various organs, including the immune system, skin barrier, heart and lungs.
  • Diving, may expose divers to risks which they may not be able to tolerate in their weakened state.

In short, get expert diving medical advice when considering a return to diving after chemotherapy.

If you have any additional questions, contact DAN via e-mail -, or call the hotline on 0800 020111, for more information.
Posted in

No Comments


 2018 (60)
 2016 (119)
After anaesthesia Air Quality Altitude sickness Annual renewal Apnea Arthroscopic surgery BCD Badages Bag valve mask Bandaids Barbell back squat Bench press Bouyancy compensators Boyle's Law Boyle\'s Law Boyle\\\'s Law Boyle\\\\\\\'s Law Boyle\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s Law Brain Breast Cancer Breath hold Breath-hold Bruising Buoyancy Burnshield CGASA CO2 Camera settings Cancer Remission Cancer treatments Cancer Cape Town Dive Festival Carbon dioxide Charles' Law Charles\' Law Charles\\\' Law Charles\\\\\\\' Law Charles\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\' Law Chemotherapy Coastalexcursion Cold Water Cold care Cold Conservation Contaminants Corals Cutaneous decompression DAN Profile DAN Researchers DAN medics DAN report DCI DCS Decompressions sickness DCS DReams Dalton's Law Dalton\'s Law Dalton\\\'s Law Dalton\\\\\\\'s Law Dalton\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s Law Decompression Illness Decompression Sickness Decompression illsnes Diseases Dive Instruction Dive Instructor Dive accidents Dive computers Dive health Dive medicines Dive medicine Dive safety Dive staff Diveleaders Divers Alert Diving Kids Diving career Diving emergencies Diving injuries Diving suspended Diving Domestic Dr Rob Schneider EAP Ear pressure Ears injuries Emergency plans Environmental impact Equipment care Exercise Eye injuries FAQ Fatigue First Aid Equipment First Aid kits Fish Fitness Francois Burman Free diving Freediver Gas laws Gastric bypass Gordon Hiles HELP Haemorhoid treatment Health practitioner Heart High temperatures Hot Hydrostatic pressure Hypothermia Indian Ocean Inert gas Infections Instinct Instructors International travel International Irritation Kids scubadiver Labour laws Legislation Leukemis Liability Risks Life expectancy Lifestyle Low blood pressure Lung injuries MOD Maintenance Mammalian effect Maximum operating depth Medical Q Medical questionaire Medical statement Middle ear pressure Military front press More pressure Mycobacterium marinum Nitrox Non-rebreather Mask Nosebleeds O2 providers O2 servicing OOxygen maintenance Ocean pollution Orbital implants Oronasal mask Oxygen Cylinder Oxygen Units Oxygen deicit Oxygen ears Oxygen equipment Oxygen masks Oxygen supply Oxygen therapy Part 3 Plastic Pneumothorax Pool Diving Pulmanologist Pulmonary Bleb Radio communications Rashes Report incidents Rescue training Resume diving SABS 019 Safety Save our seas Science Scuba Injury Scuba children Scuba dive Scuba health Scubalearners Skin Bends Skin outbreak Skin rash Snorkeling Sodwana Bay Splits Squeezes Supplemental oxygen Surgeries Surgery The Bends The truth Thermal Notions Tides Travel tips Travel Tweezers Unconsciousness Underwater photographer Underwater pho Vaccines Vagus nerve Valsalva manoeuvers Vasvagal Syncope White balance Winter Wound dressings Wreck dive Youth diver abrasion air-cushioned alert diver altitude antibiotics antiseptics bandages bent-over barbell rows breathing air calories burn cardiovascular checklist chemo port child clearances closed circuit scuba currents cuts dead lift decompression algorithms decongestants dehydration dive injuries dive medicing dive ready child dive reflex dive tribe diver rescue dive diving attraction doctors domestic travel dri-suits dry mucous membranes dry suits dry ear spaces electroytes emergency action plans emergency assessment equalizing exposure injuries flexible tubing health hospital humidity immersion pulmonary edema (IPE join DAN longevity lower stress marine pathogens medical procedures medical risk assesment minor illness mucous membranes nasal steroids nasal newdivers nitrogen bubbles off-gassed operating theatre outgas pain plasters post dive preserve rebreather mask rebreathers risk areas saturation scissors scuba equipment scuba single use sinus infections stings strength tecnical diver thermal protection training trimix unified standards warmers water quality