There are so many benefits for survivors who make the choice to adopt a healthy lifestyle, including reduced fatigue and distress, increased sleep, energy and strength, and an overall improved quality of life. Primary care continues to be the home for connecting to the teachable moments and partnering with patients to help them implement healthy preventive strategies.
Cancer survivors are often highly motivated to seek information about food choices, physical activity ,and dietary supplements to improve their treatment outcomes, quality of life, and overall survival. To address these concerns, the American Cancer Society (ACS) convened a group of experts in nutrition, physical activity, and cancer survivorship to evaluate the scientific evidence and best clinical practices related to optimal nutrition and physical activity after the diagnosis of cancer. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, Vol.62, Issue 4 (26 APR 2012)
According to the American College of Sports Medicine Roundtable, exercise training during and after cancer treatments is not only safe, but has significant benefits. This include improvements in physical functioning, quality of life, and cancer-related fatigue for several cancer survivor groups. The conclusive advice is to “avoid inactivity,” even in patients with existing disease or who are undergoing difficult treatments. These guidelines are due to be reviewed in 2016.
Exercise is Medicine’s toolkit is sanctioned to encourage the incorporation of physical activity into your cancer survivor patient’s lifestyle. They provide a summary sheet for healthcare providers as an adjunct to the full Healthcare Providers Action Guide, as well as two versions of an exercise prescription.
This is ASCO’s first-ever policy statement on obesity, cancer prevention, and weight management guidelines for cancer survivors. They have also developed the toolkits Obesity and Cancer – A Guide for Oncology Providers and Managing Your Weight After a Cancer Diagnosis – A Guide for Patients and Families. These resources offer guidance to initiate conversations regarding weight management with patients, helping them make post cancer lifestyle changes.
The Lymphedema Network reiterates the importance of individuals with lymphedema to be physically fit and maintain a healthy weight. This position statement shares the science behind the forms of exercise that are considered safe for those with lymphedema. There are many other position statements regarding lymphedema that might be useful for physicians who are working with cancer survivors.