Exercise in the Treatment of Prostate Cancer

Written by: Josh Martin (Accredited Exercise Scientist)

Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer and the most common in men in Australia. Over fifteen thousand men are diagnosed each year and recovery is dependent on stage of cancer development.

The prostate is a small walnut sized gland located between the penis and rectum. It helps expel sperm from the body while secreting seminal fluids that protect and nourish the sperm. This allows the sperm to healthy and lively.

In some cases prostate cancer does not have symptoms however the most common symptoms of prostate cancer can include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Pain while urinating
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • A weak urine stream
  • Pain in the back or pelvis
  • Weak legs or feet

If these symptoms occur it is recommended to go to a GP and have some tests completed to test the health of your prostate.

Prostate Cancer Treatment

If diagnosed with prostate cancer treatments include: surgical removal of the prostate, radiation therapy, androgen suppression therapy (AST), chemotherapy, and targeted drug therapies.

Depending on the severity of the cancer and if it has spread and the type of treatment used will affect each individual differently.

Common side effects of treatment:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Mental health decline
  • Lowered libido
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Incontinence
  • Reduced range of motion in hip and upper leg joints

The Role of Exercise in Cancer Treatment

Exercise is a key part in the treatment and recovery for prostate cancer in men. This is done through decreasing the extent and severity of side effects and symptoms that occur through the disease itself and the treatment of the disease. Treatment of prostate cancer often results in fatigue and muscle loss depression and anxiety all of which can be detrimental to someone’s health even more so than the cancer already has.

Types of exercise for Prostate Cancer Treatment

It is recommended that those with or recovering from prostate cancer and/or treatment for prostate cancer that they do both aerobic and resistance exercise.
Resistance exercise should be completed to increase strength levels especially following chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Clients will often lose muscle mass and weight during these treatments and therefore their ability to do tasks of daily living like carrying shopping bags or reaching items off a shelf are difficult. Increasing strength will allow for someone to return back to these previous activities and also return to functional physical activity such as riding a bike or kicking the footy etc.
Cardiorespiratory fitness will often decrease due to prostate cancer and the treatments due to periods of inactivity. Because of this aerobic exercise such as walking and swimming which are low impact can be great to improve the health and function of prostate cancer patients.

Considerations to exercise

  • Low impact exercises recommended early on preventing the possibility of incontinence due to the force going to the pelvic floor muscles
  • Slowly increase range of motion back into joints
  • Monitor for fatigue and other side effects and modify intensity of exercise accordingly

If you would like to know more about how exercise can help you with Prostate Cancer, book a consultation with us at Inspire Exercise Physiology in Balwyn North.