Exercise for cancer survivors has received a good bit of attention in recent years.
It has been postulated to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence and increase overall survival rates in both breast and colorectal patient populations. Yet, only one-third of cancer survivors are meeting the American Cancer Society’s and US Public Health guidelines of engaging in 150 minutes of moderately intensive exercise weekly.1
A study of nearly five hundred cancer survivors in Northern Ireland and Scotland, the majority of which had completed cancer therapy more than three years prior, shed light on barriers, facilitators, and preferences for exercise. Results from this investigation elucidated many insights on improving exercise interventions within the context of survivorship care. Consider the following:2
Nearly three quarters of the sample reported fatigue, with over half experiencing the symptom on a daily basis.
Nearly 77 percent acknowledged an interest in walking with a formal program offered once or twice a week -- morning being preferred.
Forty percent cited an interest in exercising with other cancer survivors.
The majority (35 percent) preferred hearing about an exercise program from an oncology nurse.
This study demonstrates that the surveyed cancer survivors were interested in taking part in exercise programs, but 68 percent had never been given advice on how to manage fatigue, a major barrier to exercise intervention.
This report offers testimony to the benefits of interdisciplinary collaboration. Oncology nurses who collaborate with their rehabilitation colleagues can better advocate for our survivorship population. By maximizing our team potential, we enhance the quality of interventions for our at-risk cancer survivor population.
Are you helping to educate your cancer patients on increased activity and exercise? If not, what are your barriers?
Blanchard CM, Courneya KS & Stein K (2008). Cancer Survivors’ Adherence to Lifestyle Behavior Recommendations and Association With Health-Related Quality of Life: Results from the American Cancer Society’s SCS-II. Journal Clinical Oncology, 26, 2198-2204.
Blaney JM, Lowe-Strong A, Rankin-Watt J, Campbell A & Gracey JH (2011). Cancer survivors’ exercise barriers, facilitators and preferences in the context of fatigue, quality of life and physical activity participation: A questionnaire-survey. Psycho-Oncology, 22, 186-194.