Cancer patients 'must be prescribed exercise'

Activity significantly reduces risk of recurrence

Cancer patients should exercise more in order to reduce their risk of the disease returning, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.

A new report from the charity - "Move More" - brings together evidence about the link between exercise and cancer survival. Breast cancer patients' risk of recurrence and of dying from the disease can be reduced by up to 40% by doing recommended amounts of physical exercise (150 hours a week according to the Department of Health).

Prostate cancer patients' risk of dying from the disease can be reduced by up to 30% by doing recommended levels of activity.

Research has also shown that bowel cancer patients who do around six hours of "moderate intensity" physical activity a week could reduce their risk of dying from the disease by around 50% compared to those doing less than an hour a week.

All cancer patients can reduce their risk of developing side effects of cancer and its treatment by exercising, research suggests, from fatigue and depression to osteoporosis and heart disease.

Jane Maher, chief medical officer of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "The advice that I would have previously have given to one of my patients would have been to 'take it easy'. This has now changed significantly because of the recognition that if physical exercise were a drug, it would be hitting the headlines.

"There really needs to be a cultural change, so that health professionals see physical activity as an integral part of cancer after care, not just a optional add-on."

A survey of healthcare professionals conducted by Macmillan Cancer Support found that most do not talk to their patients about the possible benefits of physical activity. Ciaran Devane, chief executive of the charity, said it was "essential" that physical activity services were made available and "prescribed" to all cancer patients.





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