Exercise in Cancer Care
In Australia someone is diagnosed with cancer every four minutes. Every one of those patients would benefit from exercise but only one in ten will exercise enough during and after their cancer treatment.
Why? Research now shows that exercise greatly benefits cancer patients. Cancer patients who regularly exercise experience less severe and fewer side effects from treatments. They can also reduce the physical deteriorations caused by cancer, combat fatigue, relieve mental distress and improve quality of life. Cancer patients who regularly exercise may also have a lower relative risk of cancer recurrence and of dying from cancer. (Please use this link for further information https://theconversation.com/every-cancer-patient-should-be-prescribed-exercise-medicine-95440)
A group of Australian cancer experts have now launched a position statement calling for exercise to be prescribed to all cancer patients as part of their routine treatment.
The Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) has prepared the Exercise in Cancer Care paper, which states doctors, should prescribe particular exercise regimes and refer patients to exercise specialists with experience in cancer care. That is, exercise should be prescribed to all cancer patients as part of their routine treatment.
The statement has been endorsed by more than 25 health organisations, including the Cancer Council, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and ANZUP. A COSA report on the subject has been published in the Medical Journal of Australia.
The COSA statement finds most cancer patients do not meet exercise recommendations. The level of exercise outlined in the statement includes:
- At least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise (e.g. swimming, cycling, walking, jogging) each week; and,|
- Two to three resistance exercise (i.e. lifting weights) sessions each week encompassing moderate to vigorous-intensity exercises targeting the main muscle groups.
- When correctly prescribed and managed, exercise is safe for people with cancer and the risk of complications is moderately small.
When correctly prescribed and managed, exercise is safe for people with cancer and the risk of complications is moderately small.
ANZUP is fully committed to providing better outcomes for cancer patients and this includes investigating exercise in cancer treatment. Through the Below the Belt Research Fund two grant recipients are further exploring the importance and value of exercise in cancer care.
1) Dr Camille Short from the University of Adelaide is currently exploring:
Delivering personalised and evidence-based exercise support to men with metastatic prostate cancer via the internet – A pilot randomised clinical trial examining intervention impact on behaviour change and quality of life.
This research recognises that both physical activity and psychological support can greatly improve quality of life for men with metastatic prostate cancer. Although it is suggested men are more likely to follow physical activity guidelines than use psychological support, traditional supervised exercise is often unavailable and/or underutilised. It is important physical activity is accessible and affordable, but also individualised, evidence-based and safe. This study will provide personalised physical activity advice through an innovative web-based platform. It will be evaluated to ensure it works as intended and is well received by users and has the potential for significant impact through increased reach and uptake.
While there are some face-to-face programs available, many men live too far away, are too unwell or lack funds to attend face-to-face sessions, especially on an ongoing basis. Our research team, which consists of experts in prostate cancer, exercise physiology, psychology, medicine and telehealth is well placed to develop an alternative support system that will be available to men with metastatic disease via the internet.
Once the website is developed the next step will be to conduct preliminary research to ensure it works as intended and is well received by the initial users.
2) Professor Dennis Taaffe, Edith Cowan University is researching:
Exercise Medicine Prior to Open Radical Cystectomy: Feasibility and Preliminary Efficacy
Bladder removal surgery as a treatment for bladder cancer is associated with high complication and hospital re-admission rates, as well as significant risk of morbidity and mortality. This risk is increased for patients with poor physical fitness or overall function. This study will test the benefits of a supervised four-week pre-surgery strength and aerobic exercise program in improving post-surgery outcomes and quality of life. It is the first Australian study to test the feasibility and preliminary effectiveness of pre-surgical exercise with opportunities to then proceed to a larger multicentre Phase III trial.