Exercise in cancer survivors: an overview of research

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003 Nov;35(11):1846-52. doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000093622.41587.B6.


Purpose: To provide an overview of research that has examined exercise in cancer survivors including recently completed trials at the University of Alberta.

Methods: A search of published studies using electronic data bases and previous review articles. The review is divided into breast and nonbreast cancers, during and after treatment, and trials from the University of Alberta.

Results: Forty-seven published studies were located and summarized plus four trials from the University of Alberta. Almost all studies showed beneficial effects of exercise in breast and nonbreast cancer groups alike as well as during and after cancer treatment.

Conclusion: Preliminary research suggests that exercise may be an effective intervention for enhancing quality of life (QOL) in cancer survivors. The effects of exercise on biomarkers, cancer recurrence, other diseases, and overall survival are unknown. Future research is needed to extend our knowledge beyond breast cancer survivors, conduct second generation studies in breast cancer survivors, examine mechanisms for changes in QOL, compare exercise with other QOL interventions, and examine biomarkers, cancer recurrence, and survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / prevention & control*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Quality of Life
  • Survivors*