Exercise for Cancer Patients Clinical Practice Guidelines (2018)

Clinical Oncology Society of Australia

Reviewed and summarized by Medscape editors

June 07, 2018

The clinical practice guidelines on exercise for cancer patients were released on May 7, 2018, by the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia.[1,2]

Main Recommendations

Exercise to be embedded as part of standard practice in cancer care and to be viewed as an adjunct therapy that helps counteract the adverse effects of cancer and its treatment.

All members of the multidisciplinary cancer team should promote physical activity and recommend that people with cancer adhere to exercise guidelines; and best practice cancer care should include referral to an accredited exercise physiologist or physiotherapist with experience in cancer care.

Changes in Management

Discuss the role of exercise in cancer recovery.

Recommend patients adhere to exercise guidelines (avoid inactivity, and progress toward at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and two to three moderate-intensity resistance exercise sessions each week).

Recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise (eg, walking, jogging, cycling, swimming) each week and two to three resistance exercise (eg, lifting weights) sessions each week involving moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercises targeting the major muscle groups.

Exercise should be tailored to the individual's abilities, treatment-related adverse effects, anticipated disease trajectory, and health status.

Refer patients to a health professional who specializes in the prescription and delivery of exercise (ie, accredited exercise physiologist or physiotherapist with experience in cancer care).

Emerging evidence indicates that regular exercise before, during, and/or after cancer treatment decreases the severity of other adverse side effects (in addition to fatigue and distress) and is associated with reduced risk of developing new cancers.

Epidemiologic research suggests that physical activity protects against cancer recurrence, cancer-specific mortality, and all-cause mortality for some types of cancer. Current research is mostly in breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers.


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