How can physical activity after a cancer diagnoses reduce complications from treatment and improve quality of life?
Two out of five people will develop cancer in their lifetime. By 2027 the number of people diagnosed with cancer is expected to reach 40,000 a year – that’s 110 people being diagnosed with cancer every day. The Scottish Government has physical activity high on their priorities for improved cancer care as the number of people living with and beyond a diagnosis continues to increase.
There is a growing body of evidence emphasising the importance of being physically active after a cancer diagnosis, but also research highlighting the barriers that people living with and beyond cancer may face. With the potential to reduce complications from treatment and improve quality of life in both the short and long-term, it is important that lifestyle is addressed. Macmillan Move More is breaking down these barriers, educating patients, and supporting them into a wide variety of individualised activities available in their local area for 12 months.
Move More is a unique programme as it is community-based but works in partnership with local authorities and the NHS. Currently, 25 local authorities have a Move More programme, with further roll-outs taking place in 2019.
The individually-tailored programme of physical activity support is designed to help people with cancer to become, and stay, active at a level that is suitable for them. Move More is about providing opportunities for people to get moving in an enjoyable way that suits their lifestyle. It supports people living with and beyond cancer at any stage of their journey; whether it’s improving fitness prior to treatment (prehabilitation), managing side effects of treatment, rehabilitation, or maintaining a good of quality of life.
Referrals to Move More are made by health professionals in the NHS. This sends a strong message to patients that lifestyle is important and also empowers patients to become involved in their care as part of shared decision-making – another key priority of the Scottish Government. Further evidence suggests physical activity plays a vital role in helping to prevent a recurrence of cancer and may also slow disease progression.
The Health Professional view:
"We need to support patients needing to change their lifestyle. With such important decisions being made in their cancer treatment, it is paramount that lifestyle change works alongside that. We now have the opportunity with Move More to refer all our patients for assessment in a friendly approachable fashion where their lifestyle needs can be identified and individually treated. Being stronger and fitter for surgery is vitally important and we have referred nearly 400 patients to this programme. The psychological support and understanding from other patients that are participating can’t be underestimated and it is my hope that this integration will continue into the long-term, similar to the excellent work of cardiac rehabilitation. But this is just my opinion, the real evidence comes from the patients."
Dianne was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2017 and referred to the Move More programme to improve her fitness prior to surgery. Dianne reported that “not only did it help me get out of bed and out of hospital quicker after surgery, it also gave me techniques for breathing and relaxation at a time when I needed it most”. John, another Move More participant, diagnosed with Stage III prostate cancer, was referred to the programme by his Clinical Nurse Specialist at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre. He found Move More ‘gave him focus’ and ‘made him realise he’s not alone’. John reported Move More has ‘improved his coordination and fitness’ as he is ‘now able to walk without my stick’. Both service users reported that the Move More programme has given them the confidence to exercise independently.
With thanks to Ruth Miller and Professor Susan Moug