Exercise to be prescribed to people with cancer in new approach developed and researched in Sheffield

9th April 2021

A pioneering physical activity programme designed to help people with cancer prepare for and respond to treatment will be launched at Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) with funding from Yorkshire Cancer Research.

The new approach to cancer treatment will see patients offered a combination of physical activity, nutrition and psychological support. By providing tailored support and guidance for each individual, researchers expect to improve recovery rates and save lives by reducing the likelihood of cancer returning following treatment.

Using state-of-the-art facilities, the approach will be researched at the world-leading AWRC, which is dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of people across the region.

This new collaboration with Yorkshire Cancer Research is designed to optimise cancer treatment, minimise the length of time spent in hospital and reduce the likelihood of complications from surgery.

To begin with, patients with cancer of the lungs, colon, oesophagus, stomach and small intestine will be part of an initial pilot before the programme is widened out to include patients with other forms of cancer. The pilot is expected to start in the autumn.

Professor Robert Copeland, Director of the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, said: “We want to help improve the way we support people with cancer to prepare for and recover from their treatment.

“Evidence suggests a programme of exercise, changes to diet and psychological support can help reduce negative side effects, improve treatment and longer-term quality of life.

“Being more physically active following a cancer diagnosis is associated with a lower risk of cancer recurrence and a greater likelihood of recovery.

“Physical activity is not usually prescribed for patients receiving cancer treatment and we want that to change. I am therefore delighted that we have the opportunity in Sheffield and in time, the wider city region to work with Yorkshire Cancer Research, the Cancer Alliance, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust and the numerous clinicians and professionals already supporting people with a cancer diagnosis, to develop effective models that ultimately make a difference to the lives of people in our region.”

Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “In recent years, it has become very clear that exercise plays a vital role in improving cancer survival rates, and that physical activity programmes should be prescribed to people with cancer in the same way as other treatments.

“At Yorkshire Cancer Research, our aim is for 2000 more people to survive cancer every year in Yorkshire. Together with the pioneering team at Sheffield’s AWRC, we are taking a huge leap into creating a world-leading programme that can be introduced across Yorkshire and beyond, helping to save many lives.

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