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Exercise & Cancer

Updated: Sep 9

Overview of Cancer: The term cancer describes a disease in which abnormal cells multiply without control. Most cancers start in a particular organ; this is called the primary site or primary tumour. Tumours can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). There are over 100 types of cancers, our most common types being breast, prostate, skin, bowel and prostate.  Statistics: • 68% of people diagnosed with cancer in Australia are still alive five years after a cancer diagnosis. • An estimated 134,000 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Australia this year, with that number set to rise to 150,000 by 2020. • 1 in 2 Australians will be diagnosed with cancer by the time they are 85 years of age What are the risk factors for cancer? It is important to acknowledge the modifiable risk factors for cancer, thus being factors that are lifestyle dependent and can be modified. Avoiding these does not ensure you don’t get cancer however it can reduce your likelihood.  Some examples of modifiable risk factors include: • Smoking • Poor diet  • Alcohol consumption • Overweight and Obesity • Physical Inactivity or Sedentary Lifestyle • Occupational exposure to chemicals, dusts and industrial processes So what about Exercise? COSA (Clinical Oncology Society of Australia) have issued a position statement, stating that exercise is 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 people with cancer should avoid inactivity and return to normal daily activities as soon as possible following diagnosis (i.e. be as physically active as current abilities and conditions allow The frequency of exercise for people with cancer will vary, depending on previous exercise history, symptoms and nature of the cancer. All individuals should aim for 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity. However an individual going through treatment should aim to gradually progress as directed by your Accredited Exercise Physiologist.  Benefits of exercise: - Reduce fatigue - Weight management (gain or loss) - Increase muscle mass and strength - Increase bone density - Increase cardiovascular function - Improve mental health - Reduce blood pressure - Improve balance - Increase range of movement at surgery site. In summary, exercise has many physical and psychological benefits for individuals going through cancer treatments. Don't wait until symptoms worsen before you start exercising, see an AEP today.


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