Three-quarters of patients diagnosed with cancer report decreased physical activity, according to a study being presented at the 2017 Cancer Survivorship Symposium.1

Symptoms and effects of a patient’s cancer diagnosis affect his or her level of physical activity. For this study, researchers attempted to identify the factors associated with changes in physical activity post-diagnosis.

Of 662 enrolled patients, the mean age was about 60 years and 65% were overweight or obese. Seventy-five percent of enrolled patients reported decreased physical activity, while only 4% increased their physical activity.

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Patients who decreased their physical activity were more than 3 times as likely to receive chemotherapy, and over 1.5 times as likely to have metastatic disease.

Decreased physical activity was linked to physical symptoms from the disease or treatment, low motivation, and sadness.

Slightly more than half of included patients were diagnosed more than 12 months after study initiation, which may preclude the determination of causal relationships among these results.

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The authors concluded that clinicians ought to develop interventions for patients to help maintain physical activity.


  1. Romero SA, Li QS, Mao JJ. Factors and barriers associated with changes in physical activity after cancer diagnosis. J Clin Oncol. 2017;35(suppl):5S. Abstract 162.