Evidence-based physical activity guidelines for cancer survivors: current guidelines, knowledge gaps and future research directions

Cancer Treat Rev. 2014 Mar;40(2):327-40. doi: 10.1016/j.ctrv.2013.06.007. Epub 2013 Jul 18.


Physical activity during and after cancer treatment has beneficial effects on a number of physical and psychosocial outcomes. This paper aims to discuss the existing physical activity guidelines for cancer survivors and to describe future research directions to optimize prescriptions. Studies on physical activity during and after cancer treatment were searched in PubMed, Clinicaltrials.gov, Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, and Dutch Trial registry. Physical activity guidelines for cancer survivors suggest that physical activity should be an integral and continuous part of care for all cancer survivors. However, the development of these guidelines has been limited by the research conducted. To be able to develop more specific guidelines, future studies should focus on identifying clinical, personal, physical, psychosocial, and intervention moderators explaining 'for whom' or 'under what circumstances' interventions work. Further, more insight into the working mechanisms of exercise interventions on health outcomes in cancer survivors is needed to improve the efficacy and efficiency of interventions. Finally, existing programs should embrace interests and preferences of patients to facilitate optimal uptake of interventions. In conclusion, current physical activity guidelines for cancer survivors are generic, and research is needed to develop more personalized physical activity guidelines.

Keywords: Exercise; Health; Neoplasms; Physical activity; Quality of life; Review.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Exercise*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity*
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Precision Medicine
  • Quality of Life*
  • Research / trends
  • Survivors*