A new position statement released by the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) yesterday highlights the importance of exercise as part of standard practice in cancer care, and specifically mentions referral to physiotherapists experienced in working with cancer patients.

COSA is the peak national body representing multidisciplinary health professionals whose work encompasses cancer control and care, and its Exercise and Cancer Group focuses on enhancing supportive care practices to improve outcomes for cancer patients via affordable, accessible and effective exercise medicine.

The newly released Exercise in Cancer Care position statement recommends exercise be embedded as part of a cancer patient’s standard treatment to help counteract the adverse effects of cancer and its treatment. Referral to physiotherapists with experience in cancer care is particularly recommended.

National Chair of the APA Cancer, Palliative Care and Lymphoedema Group Tanya Lewis welcomed the new statement. “Physiotherapists are expert exercise health professionals who have the clinical skills and expertise to provide tailored exercise programs for patients with a cancer diagnosis at all phases of their treatment.”

“Both aerobic and resistance training is recommended to address the loss of cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength that occurs as a result of disease and treatment-related adverse effects.”

“Exercise rehab provided by physiotherapists— working in hospitals or in the community—consists of individualised exercise prescription as well as treatment of the barriers to exercise for patients with a cancer diagnosis, including fatigue management, pain reduction, joint and muscle stiffness, shortness of breath, lymphoedema assessment and managing falls risks.”

Emerging evidence highlights that regular exercise before, during and/or following cancer treatment can reduce the severity of side effects and is also associated with a reduced risk of developing new cancers and other comorbid diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.1

APA National President Phil Calvert said “The majority of patients with cancer currently do not meet exercise recommendations despite many expressing a desire to be sufficiently active. They need advice and ongoing support to do this. Increasingly, cancer specialists are recognising that physiotherapists provide a highly beneficial exercise treatment program that ensures the patient is participating in physical activity appropriate to their condition.”


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