Cancer treatment should include exercise prescriptions, experts say

Health. Roundtable of experts agree that an individualized exercise Rx can improve survival and side effects, and lower risks.

25 Oct 2019 | 03:20

New guidance recommends the use of an “exercise prescription” by health care workers and fitness professionals to lower the risk of developing certain cancers and in treating people with cancer.

The American College of Sports Medicine recently convened a roundtable of experts from 17 organizations, including the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, to review the latest scientific evidence and offer recommendations about the benefits of exercise for prevention, treatment, recovery, and improved survival.

“With more than 43 million cancer survivors worldwide, we have a growing need to address the unique health issues facing people living with and beyond cancer and better understand how exercise may help prevent and control cancer,” said Katie Schmitz, immediate past-president of the American College of Sports Medicine.

She said the group aimed to translate the latest scientific evidence into practical recommendations for clinicians and the public.

“These recommendations are designed to help cancer patients incorporate physical activity into their recuperation, and they’re an important reminder that all adults should strive to be as physically active as their abilities allow for cancer prevention,” said Alpa Patel, PhD, senior scientific director of epidemiology research at the American Cancer Society.

Resources are available for oncology clinicians and patients, including a searchable registry of exercise programs, at

The partner organizations agreed to continue research that will drive the integration of exercise into the standard of care for cancer, and to translate into practice the increasingly robust evidence pointing to the benefit of exercise to cancer patients.

The new evidenced-based guidance and recommendations include:
For all adults, exercise is important for cancer prevention and specifically lowers risk of seven common types of cancer: colon, breast, endometrial, kidney, bladder, esophagus and stomach.
For cancer survivors, incorporate exercise to help improve survival after a diagnosis of breast, colon and prostate cancer.
Exercising during and after cancer treatment improves fatigue, anxiety, depression, physical function, quality of life and does not exacerbate lymphedema.