Evidence-based practice for fatigue management in adults with cancer: exercise as an intervention

Oncol Nurs Forum. 2004 Sep 17;31(5):963-76. doi: 10.1188/04.ONF.963-976. Print 2004 Sep.


Purpose/objectives: To review and summarize the current state of the evidence for exercise as an intervention for cancer-related fatigue and to facilitate application to clinical practice.

Data sources: Articles, abstracts, and practice guidelines published through October 2003.

Data synthesis: The strength of the evidence of effectiveness of exercise in managing cancer-related fatigue is growing.

Conclusions: All patients with cancer should be encouraged to maintain an optimum level of physical activity during and following cancer treatment. Patients with breast cancer and other selected patients should receive recommendations for moderate exercise programs. Referrals to physical therapy and/or rehabilitation may benefit certain patients, including those with comorbidities or deconditioning. Published multidisciplinary evidence-based guidelines for exercise programs involving patients with cancer are needed.

Implications for nursing: Nurses may participate in implementing exercise interventions with patients with cancer in various roles depending on skill and knowledge--from encouraging physical activity to referring patients to physical therapy and/or rehabilitation programs to prescribing and monitoring exercise in certain patient populations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Fatigue / chemically induced
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Fatigue / nursing
  • Fatigue / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interferons / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Neoplasms / nursing
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Oncology Nursing / education
  • Palliative Care
  • Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplantation / psychology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Interferons