Cancer and Exercise Statistics

Research suggests that exercise plays a beneficial role in the treatment and survivorship of cancer.  These exercise and cancer statitcs highlight the positive benefits associated with including strength training and endurance training as part of the treatment plan for cancer.

  • Every four minutes someone in Australia is diagnosed with cancer
  • 1 in every 2 men will get cancer, whilst 1 in every 3 women will get cancer – ACSM
  • The average age of people with prostate cancer is in the mid 60s – ACSM
  • Lose 5% of bone mineral density annually – ACSM
  • Woman have 3-4% higher bone issues compared to men – ACSM
  • Average cancer risk decreases by approximately 20% if you exercise – ACSM
  • Only 20% of people with cancer are meeting the recommended 150 mins of moderate intensity exercise per week – ACSM
  • Only 4% of people with cancer are meeting the recommended 2-3 resistance exercise sessions per week – ACSM
  • Physical inactivity is responsible for 14% of colon cancers and 11% of post-menopausal breast cancers – Cancer Council Australia
  • 56% of Australian adults are inactive or have low levels of physical activity (9.5 million Australian adults)
  • Only one in ten of those diagnosed with cancer will participate in the required amount of physical activity, but every one of those patients will benefit from completing this physical activity.
  • The risk of cancer relapse can be decreased by 17-43% with suitable and regular physical activity – ACSM
  • Increasing blood flow from exercise helps to prevent the growth of tumours, thus increasing the overall survival in cancer patients by approximately 50% – Edith Cowan University – Rob Newton
  • This increased survival rate is similar to the effects chemotherapy or radiation have, but without the side effects such as hair loss and lethargy.
General benefits of exercise for cancer include:
  • Diminished fatigue
  • Increased strength, balance and fitness
  • Improved overall health and wellbeing
  • Better quality of life
  • Management of anxiety
  • Assist with post-operative rehabilitation
  • Improved range of motion and flexibility
  • Exercise is linked to reducing the risk of 13 different types of cancer
  • This risk reduction is greater than 20% in some forms of cancer
Cancer and physical activity recommendations:
  • Adults aged 18-65 should complete 150-300 minutes (2½-5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity per week, or;
  • 75-150 minutes (1¼-2½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity per week for a reduced risk of developing cancer
  • Older adults aged 65+ should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, but preferably all days
  • Older adults aged 65+ should try to be active in as many ways as possible, doing a range of physical activities that incorporate fitness, strength, balance and flexibility.
  • If you are doing moderate intensity strength-based exercises with weights, you should be able to lift the weights at least 8–12 times without needing to take a break.
Cancer-related fatigue statistics:
  • Cancer related fatigue is common in 70-100% of cancer patients
  • Words used to describe cancer-related fatigue: listless, sluggish, faint, apathetic, tired, no motivation, exhausted, pooped, unable to think, lack of mental sharpness
  • Cancer-related fatigue may last for weeks, months or even years after treatment. This is called ‘chronic fatigue’ – long-lasting tiredness.
  • A study found that of 177 employed cancer patients, over 75% were forced to change the conditions of their employment due to their cancer-related fatigue
  • 90% of the 177 patients reported a loss of emotional control
  • 74% reported feelings of isolation and solitude
  • 72% reported feelings of dejection
Cancer-related depression statistics
  • The prevalence of depression among breast cancer survivors ranges from 1.5%–46%
  • A study showed that there was a 36% decrease in depression in those assigned to complete exercise compared to a 2% decrease in depression in those that received usual care over 12 months
  • Up to 50% of women with breast cancer experience anxiety or depression after their first year of treatment
  • This percentage does consistently lower in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th years after treatment, however, it is reported that 15% of breast cancer patients still experience anxiety or depression in the 5th year after treatment.
  • Between 30 to 50% of cancer patients report sleep disruptions.

Source: You Tube Exercise and Cancer

These cancer and exercise statistics were collated by Nick Agius (3rd Exercise Science student).