29-05-18 Exercise as Cancer Treatment and Prevention

Exercise is an essential component of successful Cancer treatment according to the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia, (COSA) latest . Position Statement, (18 May). It highlights the crucial exercise role in Cancer Care as adjunct therapy alongside surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.

Rest and activity avoidance were historically an integral part of Cancer Care. But evidence now indisputably confirms that every person with Cancer will, (and should), benefit from the prescription of a structured exercise medicine programme.

The days when we wrapped patients in cotton wool are gone, points out Dr David Speakman of Australia’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. “Our attitudes to treating cancer, what it takes to give people their best chance at survival, have to change. All cancer patients will benefit from an exercise prescription.”

COSA Associate Professor Prue Corrie comments:

“Really we are at the stage where the science is telling us that withholding exercise from cancer patients can be harmful. Exercise is the best medicine someone with cancer can take in addition to standard cancer treatments. That’s because we know now that people who exercise regularly experience fewer and less severe treatment side-effects; cancer-related fatigue, mental distress, quality of life. They also have a lower risk of their cancer coming back, or dying from the disease."

Writing in the Australian research analysis publication Coverseation , Professor Cormie lays out COSA’s new thinking on exercise medicine.

“If the effects of exercise could be encapsulated in a pill, it would be prescribed to every cancer patient worldwide and viewed as a major breakthrough in cancer treatment. If we had a pill called exercise it would be demanded by cancer patients, prescribed by every cancer specialist, and subsidised by government.”

Cormie recommends that health professionals worldwide should view exercise as a standard part every Cancer treatment plan, enabling patients to be as physically active as their current ability and conditions allow. For significant health benefits, they should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise weekly and two to three resistance exercise sessions (such as weightlifting).

I strongly recommend readers to watch Professor Cormie’s enlightening presentation on the Youtube excerpt or listen to her 20 minute podcast published by the MJA. They are featured below.

Ian MacWatt

Further Reading

COSA Position Statement
Exercise in Cancer Care

Professor Cormie, Youtube
Exercise medicine for Cancer survivors

The Conversation
Prescribing exercise medicine

Medical Journal of Australia
Podacast interview with Professor Cormie on exercise behaviour and Cancer.

[Illustration Clinical Exercise] Photo: University South Australia.

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