Impact of physical exercise in cancer survivors during and after antineoplastic treatments

Martina Ferioli, Giorgio Zauli, Alberto M. Martelli, Marco Vitale, James A. McCubrey, Simona Ultimo, Silvano Capitani and Luca M. Neri _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:14005-14034. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.24456

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Martina Ferioli1, Giorgio Zauli1, Alberto M. Martelli2, Marco Vitale3,4, James A. McCubrey5, Simona Ultimo1, Silvano Capitani1 and Luca M. Neri1

1Department of Morphology, Surgery and Experimental Medicine, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy

2Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

3Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Parma, Parma, Italy

4CoreLab, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Parma, Parma, Italy

5Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, USA

Correspondence to:

Luca M. Neri, email: [email protected]

Silvano Capitani, email: [email protected]

Keywords: cancer survivors; cancer treatments; psycho-physical symptoms; physical exercise; physical activity treatments

Received: December 17, 2017    Accepted: January 23, 2018    Published: February 08, 2018


Cancer patients experience symptoms and adverse effects of treatments that may last even after the end of treatments. Exercise is a safe, non-pharmacological and cost-effective therapy that can provide several health benefits in cancer patient and survivors, reducing cancer symptoms and cancer treatment side effects. The purpose of this review is to describe how the physical exercise is capable to reduce cancer symptoms and cancer treatment side effects. We realized a pragmatic classification of symptoms, dividing them into physical, psychological and psycho-physical aspects. For each symptom we discuss causes, therapies, we analyse the effects of physical exercise and we summarize the most effective type of exercise to reduce the symptoms. This review also points out what are the difficulties that patients and survivors face during the practice of physical activity and provides some solutions to overcome these barriers.

Related to each specific cancer, it emerges that type, frequency and intensity of physical exercise could be prescribed and supervised as a therapeutic program, like it occurs for the type, dose and duration of a drug treatment.

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