It is essential that physical activity services are available and 'prescribed' to all cancer patients
You can cut the chances of your cancer coming back through daily physical activity, according to new research.
Although patients find the recovery stage following intensive chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment difficult, daily activity has singnificant immediate and long-term benefits.
The study, conducted by Macmillan Cancer Support, revealed breast cancer patients reduced their risk of recurrence or mortality by up to 40 per cent while bowel and prostate cancer sufferers decreased their chanced by up to 50 and 30 per cent respectively.
Not being physically active enough is risking the health of 1.6 million cancer survivors, as doctors fail to inform them about the benefits of exercise.
"The evidence in out report, Move More, shows just how important physical activity is to the recovery process of cancer. Yet very little attention to its benefits is given by health professionals or by those commissioning health services," says Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support.
"It is essential that physical activity services are available and 'prescribed' to all cancer patients," says Ciaran.
Another finding from the study is, after treatment all cancer patients can reduce the risk of getting side effects of cancer and its treatment by doing recommended levels of activity. These side effects include fatigue, depression, osteoporosis and heart disease.
Currently there are two million people living with and beyond cancer in the UK, and this is increasing by 3.2 per cent every year. If the current trend continures, there will be nearly four million people living with cancer by 2030.
According to a Macmillan survey, more than 70 per cent say they're struggling with the physical side effects between one and 10 years after treatment. Thing like weight gain, nerve damage, swelling around the arms, blood clots, hot flushes and night sweats.
"The advice that I would have previously given to one of my patients would have been to ‘take it easy," says Jane Maher, Chief Medical Officer of Macmillan Cancer Support and leading clinical oncologist.
"There really needs to be a cultural change, so that health professionals see physical activity as an integral part of cancer after care, not just an optional add-on."
Jane, 57 from Christchurch, was diagnosed with breast cancer, after overcoming that she took part in a 'prescribed' exercise course following her treatment.
She says: "Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer I didn't really do much exercise. I felt pretty down and exhausted after my treatment - it really knocked it out of men.
"I was referred to the BACSUP programme, where I was given 12 weeks free use of the gym and regular meetings with a specially trained fitness instructor. They suggested I go along to a dragon boat racing group for women who've had breast cancer. I loved it so much, I'm still taking part.
"I feel like a completely different person. I'm much more confident, am much less tired and feel so much better. Who could have imagined me being so full of life after everything I've been through?"
Macmillan wants to turn the myth on its head that rest is best following treatment. Keeping active can be as simple and sun as a spot of gardening, a jog to buy milk from the corner shop, or perhaps a quick boogie in your front room.
To help encourage sufferers to Move More, Jo Brand, Joanna Scanlan and Peter Capaldi have worked together on this short film.
Femalefirst Taryn Davies