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872. Clinical Oncology Society of Australia position statement on exercise in cancer care

Research Article
Cormie, P., Atkinson, M., Bucci, L., Cust, A., Ealkin, E., Hayes, S., McCarthy, S., Murnane, A., Patchell, S. and Adams, D.
June 2018

Evidence for the positive effects of exercise for people living with and beyond a cancer diagnosis is now compelling. Benefits of engaging in physical activity have been shown across the full continuum of the cancer care pathway. Yet despite this growing evidence base showing there are potential physical, mental and economic benefits to be gained from engaging in activity, few people living beyond a cancer diagnosis are regularly active.

The new position statement from the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA), endorsed by a number of cancer care organisations and charities, provides a world-first call for exercise to be recommended to all people with cancer as part of routine clinical care. This position firmly challenges the historical notion that those with cancer should be told to rest and recover and is a positive step for converting the findings of scientific research into actions that benefit the wider patient community.

The authors, Cormie et al., make three key recommendations to change the management of cancer care. Firstly, that all health professionals involved in the care of people with cancer should discuss the role of exercise in cancer recovery. Secondly, that health professionals recommend that patients adhere to guidelines on physical activity (avoid inactivity and progress towards at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise and two to three sessions of moderate intensity resistance training per week). And thirdly, health professionals working with people during cancer recovery should refer their patients to health professionals specialising in the prescription and delivery of exercise (accredited exercise physiologists or physiotherapists with experience in cancer care).  

Historically, studies exploring if and how clinical staff working with cancer patients talk about exercise have found that many staff feel this is outside of their remit of clinical care and often requires a discussion for which they have insufficient time. It will be hoped that the recommendation by COSA that people with cancer should be referred to those experienced in providing exercise advise to this patient group should allow people with cancer to gain safe and suitable advice without over burdening those already delivering primary care. Time will tell if this world-first position statement results in meaningful changes in behaviour amongst a population who have been shown to have much to gain from increasing their daily activity.