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Curr Oncol. 2017 Aug;24(4):e290-e315. doi: 10.3747/co.24.3619. Epub 2017 Aug 31.

Exercise for people with cancer: a systematic review.

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Medical Oncology, The Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa.
McMaster University, Hamilton.
Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, Toronto.
Queen's University, Kingston.
Odette Cancer Research Program, Sunnybrook Hospital, Toronto; and.
Sunnybrook Hospital, Toronto, ON.



This systematic review was completed by the Exercise for People with Cancer Guideline Development Group, a group organized by Cancer Care Ontario's Program in Evidence-Based Care (pebc). It provides background and guidance for clinicians with respect to exercise for people living with cancer in active and post treatment. It focuses on the benefits of specific types of exercise, pre-screening requirements for new referrals, safety concerns, and delivery models.


Using the pebc's standardized approach, medline and embase were systematically searched for existing guidelines, systematic reviews, and primary literature.


The search identified two guidelines, eighteen systematic reviews, and twenty-nine randomized controlled trials with relevance to the topic. The present review provides conclusions about the duration, frequency, and intensity of exercise appropriate for people living with cancer.


The evidence shows that exercise is safe and provides benefit in quality of life and in muscular and aerobic fitness for people with cancer both during and after treatment. The evidence is sufficient to support the promotion of exercise for adults with cancer, and some evidence supports the promotion of exercise in group or supervised settings and for a long period of time to improve quality of life and muscular and aerobic fitness. Exercise at moderate intensities could also be sustainable for longer periods and could encourage exercise to be continued over an individual's lifetime. It is important that a pre-screening assessment be conducted to evaluate the effects of disease, treatments, and comorbidities.


Exercise; systematic reviews

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