Review of Exercise Intervention Studies in Cancer Patients

Document Type

Journal Article


American Society of Clinical Oncology


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Science




Galvao, D. A., & Newton, R. (2005). Review of exercise intervention studies in cancer patients. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 23(4), 899-909. Available here


Purpose: To present an overview of exercise interventions in cancer patients during and after treatment and evaluate dose-training response considering type, frequency, volume, and intensity of training along with expected physiological outcomes. Methods: The review is divided into studies that incorporated cardiovascular training, combination of cardiovascular, resistance, and flexibility training, and resistance training alone during and after cancer management. Criteria for inclusion were based on studies sourced from electronic and nonelectronic databases and that incorporated preintervention and postintervention assessment with statistical analysis of data. Results: Twenty-six published studies were summarized. The majority of the studies demonstrate physiological and psychological benefits. However, most of these studies suffer limitations because they are not randomized controlled trials and/or use small sample sizes. Predominantly, studies have been conducted with breast cancer patients using cardiovascular training rather than resistance exercise as the exercise modality. Recent evidence supports use of resistance exercise or “anabolic exercise” during cancer management as an exercise mode to counteract side effects of the disease and treatment. Conclusion: Evidence underlines the preliminary positive physiological and psychological benefits from exercise when undertaken during or after traditional cancer treatment. As such, other cancer groups, in addition to those with breast cancer, should also be included in clinical trials to address more specifically dose-response training for this population. Contemporary resistance training designs that provide strong anabolic effects for muscle and bone may have an impact on counteracting some of the side effects of cancer management assisting patients to improve physical function and quality of life.



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