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National Cancer Institute

Post Treatment Health: The Current State of Interventions

Presentation 2: Promoting Behavior Change After Cancer: Physical Activity

Kerry S. Courneya, Ph.D.
Professor and Canadian Institutes of Health Research Investigator
University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB, Canada

  • Preliminary research results suggest that physical activity improves quality-of-life in breast cancer survivors and probably will enhance quality-of-life for most other cancer survivor groups as well.
  • More than 70 studies on exercise in survivors (half on breast cancer survivors) have been conducted. Almost all show a positive effect of exercise on quality-of-life.
  • Guidelines for physical activity for cancer survivors likely will be dependent on individual disease characteristics and treatments received. For example, women receiving combination therapy participate in sports activity less often than did women receiving surgical treatment alone, or a single therapy.
  • The amount of time spent exercising drops dramatically as cancer patients undergo treatment, and even after treatment is complete, activity levels do not reach pretreatment levels.
  • Receiving a recommendation from an oncologist to exercise during treatment increases the chance that cancer patients will exercise.

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