Fighting cancer with fitness

In an Australian first, a new exercise-medicine healthcare service designed to combat the impact cancer has on patients’ health, wellbeing and longevity was launched at the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Melbourne.


Led by the Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research (MMIHR) at Australian Catholic University in collaboration with a consortium of hospitals, universities and cancer organisations, EX-MED Cancer is a best practice exercise-medicine program for people with cancer.


Watch the EX-MED Cancer Program Video at


Associate Professor Prue Cormie, Principal Research Fellow – Exercise Oncology for the MMIHR, said EX-MED Cancer had the potential to change the face of cancer care in Australia and around the world.


“Based on what the research tells us, exercise is the best medicine people with cancer can take – in addition to their cancer treatments – to reverse treatment related side-effects, increase quality of life and extend their survival.


Exercise can help patients live longer, tolerate aggressive treatments, minimise the physical declines caused by cancer, and counteract cancer-related fatigue and distress, among other benefits,” Associate Professor Cormie said.


“If the effects of exercise could be encapsulated in a pill, this pill would be prescribed to every cancer patients worldwide. And even if this pill had just a fraction of the positive health benefits high quality exercise provides to cancer patients, it would be viewed as a miracle drug.


Yet we know that the overwhelming majority of cancer patients don’t exercise regularly and participation in exercise decreases after diagnosis.


“While the general benefits of exercise have been spruiked for many years, the level of evidence now available means exercise medicine should be prescribed to every cancer patient in addition to their surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments.


“EX-MED Cancer is a best-practice exercise health care service that provides cancer patients and their health care professionals with access to evidence-based exercise medicine within the community,” Associate Professor Cormie said.


Commenting on the new program, Medical Oncologist Associate Professor Linda Mileshkin said EX-MED Cancer rethinks the traditional model of cancer care by embedding exercise into the treatment plan.


“EX-MED Cancer is an innovative care program that rethinks the traditional model of cancer care. By bringing together cancer specialists, general practitioners and exercise physiologists cancer patients can access a synchronized pathway of care that helps reduce the adverse side effects of treatment, which are a huge burden to patients’ daily life,” she said.


Supported by the Victorian Government, EX-MED Cancer is a partnership between a range of hospitals, universities, primary health networks and community-based organisations including Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Austin Health Oliva Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre, Western Health, Cancer Council Victoria, Breast Cancer Network Australia, Prostate Cancer Foundation Australia, Australian Catholic University and Melbourne University.


See EX-MED Cancer's website for more information.


7 January 2018.