This standard describes scientifically evidence-based ways in which healthcare professionals and fitness instructors can promote an active lifestyle and fitness of people diagnosed with cancer. It also provides scientific evidence for the benefits of physical exercise for prevention, treatment, recovery and improved survival.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) organized the roundtable with experts from 17 partner organizations such as the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute – part of the National Institutes of Health. Prof. Anne May of the UMC Utrecht Julius Center and Dr. Martijn Stuiver of the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek participated on behalf of KNGF from the Netherlands.

“With more than 43 million cancer patients worldwide, there is a growing need to address the specific symptoms experienced by people living with and beyond cancer and to better understand how physical exercise can help prevent and control cancer,” said ACSM Immediate Past President Dr. Katie Schmitz, who co-chaired the roundtable.

Some of the findings are:
  • Exercise reduces the risk of seven common cancers: colon, breast, endometrial, kidney, bladder, esophagus and stomach.
  • Exercise helps patients increase their chances of survival after being diagnosed with breast, colon and prostate cancer.
  • Exercise during and after cancer treatment helps improve symptoms of fatigue, anxiety and depression, physical function and quality of life, and it does not exacerbate lymphedema.
“The new recommendations for exercise are much more specific than those that have been available until now. This allows us to have patients exercise in a more targeted way and work with them towards faster recovery," said Prof. Anne May. “The great thing about this development is that we now know even better what exercise programs we can offer patients to prevent or reduce side effects of their treatment, such as fatigue, and to speed up rehabilitation.”
The next step is to get these exercise programs to the patient. Dr. Martijn Stuiver said, “The new recommendations call on doctors and nurses to systematically discuss exercise with patients and to refer them where necessary. Patients with cancer are currently not always referred to the appropriate professionals during or after their treatment, although exercise programs are available: The Netherlands has a strong network of physiotherapists with expertise in the field of cancer. OncoNet allows patients to find a qualified physiotherapist close to home." Anne May also said, "It is important that people continue to exercise after completion of the supervised exercise program. The UMC Utrecht recently started the OncoFitness project to educate fitness instructors.”

The extensive research and recommendations are described in three academic articles published today in the leading scientific journals Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise of ACSM and CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians from the American Cancer Society.

- Exercise Guidelines for Cancer Survivors: Consensus Statement from International Multidisciplinary Roundtable
American College of Sports Medicine Roundtable Report on Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, and Cancer Prevention and Control
Exercise Is Medicine in Oncology: Engaging Clinicians to Help Patients Move Through Cancer