Rehabilitation, including exercise, during cancer treatment is safe and may have a number of benefits. Common cancer treatments people receive during this phase are chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy and hormone therapy.
The main aim of exercise during this phase is to:
mitigate treatment side-effects (e.g. fatigue)
maintain or improve function
There is some research to suggest that exercise during treatment may help with treatment efficacy.
It is important to set clear expectations about what gains can be made during this time within the context of patient’s age, co-morbidities and treatment regime.
Many patients exercising while receiving treatment may have advanced cancer whereby their treatment is being provided with palliative intent. For these patients, the main goal of exercise is to provide symptom management, emotional and social support and maintain function and quality of life.
Additional precautions may be required during exercise assessment and prescription to manage common problems specific to advanced cancer such as breathlessness, pain and bony metastases.