Exercise as Standard Treatment in Patients With Cancer

Pink Geometric Pattern Medical Presentation

Multiple national agencies (eg. The American College of Sports Medicine, American Cancer Society, National Comprehensive Cancer Network and The National Cancer Institute) all now recommend “avoidance of inactivity” for cancer patients.  As of last month, the above agencies, in cooperation with international experts in exercise oncology now recommend specific guidelines and activity recommendations for cancer patients – from newly diagnosed to after cancer treatment.  Abundant research now demonstrates the efficacy of exercise therapy for the management of symptom burden (eg. Poor health-related quality of life, fatigue, weakness) and the improvement of overall treatment related outcomes.

New Guidelines

In a first, national cancer organizations are now issuing formal guidelines recommending exercise as part of cancer treatment, for all cancer patients. Some of these recommendations are:

  • Exercise should be embedded as part of standard practice in cancer care and viewed as an adjunct therapy that helps counteract the adverse effects of cancer and its treatment.
  • All members of the multi-disciplinary cancer team should promote physical activity and help their patients adhere to exercise guidelines.
  • Best practice cancer care should include referral to an accredited exercise physiologist and/or physical therapist with experience in cancer care.

A lead clinical researcher in cancer exercise and exercise physiologist, Prue Cormie states, 

“If we could turn the benefits of exercise into a pill it would be demanded by patients, prescribed by every cancer specialist and subsidized by government. It would be seen as a major breakthrough in cancer treatment.”

The time is now to make cancer rehabilitation a standard part of cancer care.  Outcomes in cancer rehab continue to demonstrate that it is both safe and effective for most cancer patients.  It is shown to assist with improving cancer related fatigue, improving quality of life, increasing survivors’ independence and reducing overall disability.


Where Can You Find Help?

Because of the unique needs of cancer patients (and potential medical complications) it is extremely important to locate a physical therapist with education and experience in treating cancer patients.  Such physical therapists are available in Northern Virginia.  Oncology Rehab and Wellness Resources, the regions first cancer rehabilitation physical therapy clinic has been serving Northern Virginians since 2013.  Specialized physical therapy programs prescribed by cancer rehab experts are assisting cancer patients in their cancer recovery.  Making cancer rehabilitation therapists a part of your cancer care team is important to help you live well beyond cancer.