The majority of bowel cancer patients are not advised on the benefits of regular exercise after diagnosis, a study by the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre at University College London has found.
The study, published in The BMJ, surveyed over 15,000 bowel cancer patients on their levels of physical activity, and whether they received advice from a healthcare worker when they were diagnosed. Of the respondents, 69% said that they had not received any advice from a healthcare worker on the benefits of physical activity. It also showed that women, older patients and those from deprived areas were less likely to receive advice.
Martin Ledwick, head cancer information nurse at Cancer Research UK, said: 'There's evidence to show that exercise is beneficial and safe for cancer patients. And some studies show that it can even help to speed up recovery after treatment.'
The study also found that 51% of those who were given advice did some exercise, compared to 42% of those who did receive advice. Additionally, 25% of those who were given advice met the recommended level of physical activity guidelines compared with 20% of those who did not receive advice.
The study's lead author Dr Abi Fisher, a senior researcher at the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, said: 'Our research suggests that advice on being active isn't in place yet, but we believe this should become a part of bowel cancer care. Previous research has shown that healthcare professionals can increase their cancer patients' levels of activity by discussing exercise, but they need clear information to ensure this important advice becomes routine.'