Existing literature suggests that cancer survivors present with high rates of morbidity due to various treatment and disease induced factors. Research globally has shown exercise to be beneficial in improving treatment outcomes and quality of life. India has a high prevalence of cancer and not much is known about exercise interventions for cancer survivors in India. This review was planned to review the state of exercise based interventions for cancer survivors in India. A comprehensive literature search was performed in PubMed, CINAHL, EMBASE, Scopus, Cochrane Library, PEDro, IndMed, and Shoda Ganga. The search results were screened and data extracted by two independent reviewers. All eligible studies were assessed for methodological quality rating using Downs and Black checklist. Data was extracted using a pilot tested pro forma to summarize information on site and stage of cancer, type of exercise intervention and outcome measures. The review identified 13 studies, published from 1991 to 2013, after screening 4060 articles. Exercise interventions fell into one of three categories: (1) yoga-based, (2) physiotherapy-based and (3) speech therapy based interventions; and exclusively involved either breast or head and neck cancers. Studies were generally of low to moderate quality. A broad range of outcomes were found including symptoms, speech and swallowing, and quality of life and largely supported the benefits of exercise-based interventions. At present, research involving exercise-based rehabilitation interventions in India is limited in volume, quality and scope. With the growing burden of cancer in the country, there is an immediate need for research on exercise based interventions for cancer survivors within the sociocultural context of India.
Keywords: Cancer survivors; Exercise interventions; India; Research.