Don’t Take Cancer Lying Down
The bad news is that more than 170,000 Canadians are diagnosed with cancer each year, while the lifetime probability of developing cancer in the country is about 45 per cent for men and 40 per cent for women. The good news is that the overall five-year relative survival rate has reached 62 per cent, and there are now more than 1 million cancer survivors in Canada.
Unfortunately, surviving cancer often requires intensive and prolonged medical treatments that can last from several months to many years. These treatments can include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and biologic therapy. Not surprisingly, cancer and its treatments can take a significant toll on the physical and emotional well-being of cancer survivors. Dr. Kerry Courneya, Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity and Cancer, is focusing on the role of physical activity in reducing the burden of cancer. Courneya is examining the effects of physical activity on health-related fitness, quality of life, treatment side effects and risk of recurrence in cancer survivors. Courneya is also developing behaviour change interventions to help cancer survivors increase their physical activity.
Courneya’s research is changing the way exercise is viewed by cancer-care professionals. Cancer survivors used to be advised to rest and take it easy as the best way to get through treatments and to recover. Now, thanks in part to Courneya’s research, cancer survivors are just as likely to hear their cancer-care team say “don’t take cancer lying down!”