Moving beyond pink: The personalised approach to exercise for for breast cancer survivors
Date of this Version
Treatment for breast cancer can leave the cancer survivor with lingering fatigue, physical limitation, pain, at higher risk of developing non cancer-related disease, and the fear of a cancer recurrence. The goal of most oncologists is to save the lives of their patients and not make them ill, although this often cannot be avoided by the very nature of many toxic, but effective, cancer treatments. For breast cancer, an 85% five-year survival rate  means, potentially, 1,979 New Zealand women aged 45 years and over are surviving per year, but they are not always surviving well. Evidence is mounting to show that the most effective rehabilitation strategies for cancer survivors include regular physical activity. Observational and intervention research shows aerobic-based and/or resistance exercise protocols are effective in improving cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength and reducing the overall symptom burden following treatment in breast cancer patients and survivors. Of greater significance is recent research showing that exercise can reduce risks of breast cancer death by 34%, recurrence by 24%, and the risk of dying from any cause by 41%. Indeed, if there was a drug as effective as exercise, cancer survivors would be required to take it every day.