Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology




School of Medical and Health Sciences / Exercise Medicine Research Institute




Mavropalias, G., Sim, M., Taaffe, D. R., Galvão, D. A., Spry, N., Kraemer, W. J., ... & Newton, R. U. (2022). Exercise medicine for cancer cachexia: targeted exercise to counteract mechanisms and treatment side effects. Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology, 1-18.


Purpose: Cancer-induced muscle wasting (i.e., cancer cachexia, CC) is a common and devastating syndrome that results in the death of more than 1 in 5 patients. Although primarily a result of elevated inflammation, there are multiple mechanisms that complement and amplify one another. Research on the use of exercise to manage CC is still limited, while exercise for CC management has been recently discouraged. Moreover, there is a lack of understanding that exercise is not a single medicine, but mode, type, dosage, and timing (exercise prescription) have distinct health outcomes. The purpose of this review was to examine the effects of these modes and subtypes to identify the most optimal form and dosage of exercise therapy specific to each underlying mechanism of CC. Methods: The relevant literatures from MEDLINE and Scopus databases were examined. Results: Exercise can counteract the most prominent mechanisms and signs of CC including muscle wasting, increased protein turnover, systemic inflammation, reduced appetite and anorexia, increased energy expenditure and fat wasting, insulin resistance, metabolic dysregulation, gut dysbiosis, hypogonadism, impaired oxidative capacity, mitochondrial dysfunction, and cancer treatments side-effects. There are different modes of exercise, and each mode has different sub-types that induce vastly diverse changes when performed over multiple sessions. Choosing suboptimal exercise modes, types, or dosages can be counterproductive and could further contribute to the mechanisms of CC without impacting muscle growth. Conclusion: Available evidence shows that patients with CC can safely undertake higher-intensity resistance exercise programs, and benefit from increases in body mass and muscle mass.



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.