for Individuals Affected by Cancer
Recent studies demonstrate that physical activity can:
- Help reduce the burden of side effects resulting from cancer and its treatments.
- Potentially reduce the risks of cancer recurrence and mortality.
- In a 2017 meta-analysis, a total of 100 studies were reviewed involving thousands of patients whose exercise behavior was assessed following the diagnosis of any type of cancer. The study states that individuals who were active and able to exercise following a diagnosis of cancer had a lower relative risk of cancer mortality and recurrence, and experienced less burden of severe side effects.1 Adults who exercised following a cancer diagnosis had a 28 to 44 percent reduced risk of cancer-specific mortality, a 21 to 35 percent lower risk of cancer recurrence, and a 25 to 48 percent decreased risk of all-cause mortality.1
- Another study followed nearly 3,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer at stages I, II or III who exercised at a level of three or more MET-hours (metabolic equivalent task) a week (equal to general house cleaning, walking briskly at three mph, gardening or shoveling snow for half an hour), and found women who exercised from nine to 14 MET-hours per week had a 50 percent reduced relative risk of death from cancer. 2
Here is an overview of some of the most compelling research to date::
Although exercise/physical activity can decrease symptom burden (fatigue) and rates of recurrence while improving physical function, quality of life and survival,1 53 to 75 percent of people with cancer do not meet the physical activity guidelines.3 The American College of Sports Medicine and the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) have recently called for exercise to become part of the standard of care for all cancer patients.1, 4 COSA recommendations include:
Physical activity/exercise should become part of the routine cancer care as an intervention aimed at decreasing the negative impacts of cancer treatment.
Due to the complex nature of most adults with cancer, COSA recommends an initial referral to a physical therapist or exercise physiologist with specialized cancer care training, like the ReVital program.
ReVital’s cancer rehabilitation specialists can potentially help reduce the total cost of care for patients. The ReVital team has extensive training in the short-, long- and late-term effects of cancer treatment and understands the impact of this treatment on a patient’s functional status and quality of life. Our clinicians have the expertise to prescribe a safe, effective multimodal exercise and education program for people with all cancer types from diagnosis through palliative care. In addition, the ReVital team stays on top of the latest research to ensure treatment plans follow evidence-based and best practice standards.
- Cormie P, Atkinson M, Bucci L, et al. Clinical Oncology Society of Australia position statement on exercise in cancer care. Med J Aust. 2018;209(4):184-187.
- Holmes MD, Chen WY, Feskanich D, Kroenke CH, Colditz GA. Physical Activity and Survival After Breast Cancer Diagnosis. JAMA. 2005;293(20):2479-2486.
- Blanchard CM, Courneya KS, Stein K. Cancer survivors’ adherence to lifestyle behavior recommendations and associations with health-related quality of life: results from the American Cancer Society's SCS-II. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2008;26(13):2198-2204.
- Schmitz KH, Courneya KS, Matthews C, et al. American College of Sports Medicine roundtable on exercise guidelines for cancer survivors. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2010;42(7):1409-1426.