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When someone is diagnosed with cancer, their day to day life becomes consumed with a new ‘normal’ – appointments, specialists, hospitals, chemotherapy…the idea of starting an exercise program is normally something furthest from their mind. In fact, the idea of exercise for cancer patients has traditionally been frowned upon with the opinion that those undergoing treatment should be conserving their energy.

That’s all about to change. The results are in and Australian cancer patients can routinely expect to see physical activity as an integral part of their overall treatment plan alongside the more conventional therapies such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone medications.

Why is exercise good for cancer patients?

Research in the area of exercise oncology has been growing over recent years and now the evidence is so strong that the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) has delivered its recommendations calling for a prescribed exercise program to form part of standard cancer care for all patients. Their position statement, published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, recognises the overwhelming evidence that shows the benefits exercise offers to patients in managing the negative side effects of oncology treatment and in improving mortality rates.

According to COSA;

“It is our view that all health professionals involved in the care of people with cancer should:

1. View and discuss exercise as a standard part of the cancer treatment plan;
2. Recommend people with cancer adhere to exercise guidelines
3.Refer patients to an exercise physiologist and/or physiotherapist with experience in cancer care”

Media circles across the nation have lit up after the publication was released today with these findings being seen as a major breakthrough in cancer care. Here at CanConquer, we’ve been pretty excited about this research for a while now, which is why we started this program in the first place. We saw larger cancer centres such as the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Sydney and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Victoria offering exercise physiology services within its’ cancer care facilities and wanted to provide a similar service for the Illawarra.

What are the findings in relation to exercise and cancer?

Evidence shows exercise can significantly reduce the negative side effects of cancer and its treatment, including nausea, fatigue, physical degeneration and poor mental health. The most exciting part of the research even shows that exercise done immediately before and after chemotherapy is helping the chemo agent to target the cancer cells and produce cancer-fighting chemicals within the body.

The COSA position statement recommends referral to an accredited exercise physiologist or physiotherapist with experience in cancer care. This is because these trained health professionals specialise in designing individualised programs based on a persons capabilities and limitations, as well as targeting the health goals that will be most beneficial to them, depending on the type and severity of their disease. For example, a breast cancer patient undergoing aggressive chemotherapy  and regaining shoulder mobility following mastectomy will have different needs and abilities to a prostate cancer patient experiencing bone density loss due to the side effects of their prescribed hormone medication.

The CanConquer team, located in Corrimal and Wollongong, have undertaken specific training in working with cancer patients and developing programs that maximise the benefits for individual cancer types and treatments. We are extremely passionate about making what is already a pretty awful period of our patients’ lives, somewhat better. Not only do our clients experience the physical benefits of our exercise program, but we also provide a fun, empowering and social experience at the same time.

We want to see Illawarra cancer care as the best it can possibly be. By using exercise as medicine, we can give our cancer patients the chance to take ownership over some aspect of their cancer treatment and get the best quality of life possible during their recovery.

For more information about CanConquer, please visit our contact form or call us on (02) 4207 9999