Clinical Oncology Society of Australia position statement on exercise in cancer care

Prue Cormie, Morgan Atkinson, Lucy Bucci, Anne Cust, Elizabeth Eakin, Sandra Hayes, Alexandra L McCarthy, Andrew Murnane, Sharni Patchell and Diana Adams
Med J Aust 2018; 209 (4): . || doi: 10.5694/mja18.00199
Published online: 7 May 2018


Introduction: Clinical research has established exercise as a safe and effective intervention to counteract the adverse physical and psychological effects of cancer and its treatment. This article summarises the position of the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) on the role of exercise in cancer care, taking into account the strengths and limitations of the evidence base. It provides guidance for all health professionals involved in the care of people with cancer about integrating exercise into routine cancer care.

Main recommendations: COSA calls for:

  • exercise to be embedded as part of standard practice in cancer care and to be viewed as an adjunct therapy that helps counteract the adverse effects of cancer and its treatment;
  • all members of the multidisciplinary cancer team to promote physical activity and recommend that people with cancer adhere to exercise guidelines; and
  • best practice cancer care to include referral to an accredited exercise physiologist or physiotherapist with experience in cancer care.

Changes in management as a result of the guideline: COSA encourages all health professionals involved in the care of people with cancer to:

  • discuss the role of exercise in cancer recovery;
  • recommend their patients adhere to exercise guidelines (avoid inactivity and progress towards at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise and two to three moderate intensity resistance exercise sessions each week); and
  • refer their patients to a health professional who specialises in the prescription and delivery of exercise (ie, accredited exercise physiologist or physiotherapist with experience in cancer care).
  • Prue Cormie1
  • Morgan Atkinson2
  • Lucy Bucci3
  • Anne Cust4,5
  • Elizabeth Eakin6
  • Sandra Hayes7
  • Alexandra L McCarthy8
  • Andrew Murnane3
  • Sharni Patchell3
  • Diana Adams9

  • 1 Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2 Youth Cancer Services South Australia and Northern Territory, Adelaide, SA
  • 3 Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne
  • 4 Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research Group, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW
  • 5 Melanoma Institute Australia, Sydney, NSW
  • 6 University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD
  • 7 Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD
  • 8 University of Auckland, Auckland, NZ
  • 9 Macarthur Cancer Therapy Centre, South Western Sydney Local Health District, Sydney, NSW



This position statement was developed with the support of the COSA Council and Exercise and Cancer Group. We acknowledge the feedback provided by the COSA members and affiliated organisations throughout the national consultation process. We also acknowledge the contribution of COSA staff who assisted in the development of the position statement. Anne Cust is supported by National Health and Medical Research Council and Cancer Institute NSW Career Development Fellowships. Sandra Hayes receives fellowship funding from Cancer Council Queensland.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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