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Call on on health professionals to prescribe exercise to all cancer patients

Photo: Exercise a must for all cancer patients
The Clinical Oncology Society of Australia is calling on health professionals to prescribe exercise to all cancer patients.

Exercise should be prescribed to all cancer patients alongside surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, and not to do so would be harmful, warn some of Australia's leading experts on cancer.

The Clinical Oncology Society of Australia has launched its position statement on the role of exercise in cancer care.

Endorsed by a group of 25 influential health and cancer organisations, including Cancer Council Australia, it is the first position statement worldwide to call for exercise to be an essential component of treatment.
Lead author, Professor Prue Cormie from the Australian Catholic University says the statement is based on "indisputable" evidence.

"Really we are at the stage where the science is telling us that withholding exercise from cancer patients can be harmful," said Professor Cormie.

"Exercise is the best medicine someone with cancer can take in addition to their standard cancer treatments, that's because we know now that people who exercise regularly experience fewer and less severe treatment side-effects; cancer related fatigue, mental distress, quality of life."

They also have a lower risk of their cancer coming back or dying from the disease, said Professor Cormie.

Gone are the days of wrapping cancer patients in "cotton wool", says David Speakman, Chief Medical Officer at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

"Our attitudes to treating cancer, what it takes to give people their best chance at survival, have to change. All cancer patients will benefit from an exercise prescription," said Dr Speakman.

Nicole Cooper, 33, was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer last year, and believes a big reason why she is still alive is because of the exercise regime she followed while undergoing treatment.

"When I received a terminal cancer diagnosis, I was prescribed two potentially lifesaving cancer treatments: chemotherapy and exercise," she said.

"A year later, I am in remission, having taken just as much exercise as I have chemotherapy."

The Three Key Points of COSA's 'Exercise in Cancer Care' Position Statement

* Discuss exercise as a part of their cancer treatment plan

* Prescribe exercise to all people with cancer

* Refer patients to an exercise physiologist and/or physiotherapist with experience in cancer

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