A report suggests that cancer patients could slow their symptoms and lessen the chances of remission from merely exercising on a daily basis.
The 'Move More' report and campaign, launched by the Macmillan Cancer Support, said breast cancer patients' danger of the disease recurring could be decreased by 40 percent if they took the recommended daily levels of physical exercise.
The group called exercise a "wonder drug," after more than 60 studies reviewed for the charity found that physical activity during treatment had positive effects on a victim’s mood and well-being.
The report added that bowel cancer survivors could reduce their risk by half, and prostate cancer patients by a third, if they took regular exercise.
Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said, "The evidence in our report, Move More, shows just how important physical activity is to the recovery process of cancer."
Once treatment is through, exercise can lessen side-effects such as swelling, anxiety, depression, fatigue, impaired mobility and changes to weight, the Daily Mail reports.
She added, "Yet very little attention to its benefits is given by health professionals or by those commissioning health services. It is essential that physical activity services are available and 'prescribed' to all cancer patients."
Moderate exercise includes very brisk walking, heavy cleaning – such as washing windows, vacuuming and mopping – mowing the lawn, cycling and badminton. Macmillan estimated that 38,000 cancer survivors in Northern Ireland could be at greater risk of serious long term health problems due to lack of exercise, BBC News reports.
Jane Maher, chief medical officer of Macmillan Cancer Support and lead clinical oncologist agreed, "The advice that I would have previously have given to one of my patients would have been to 'take it easy'."
More than half of physicians, practice nurses, oncologists and cancer nurses did not speak to their patients about the possible benefits of exercise, or only spoke to a few of them, Macmillan Cancer Support found.
"This has now changed significantly because of the recognition that if physical exercise were a drug, it would be hitting the headlines. There really needs to be a cultural change, so that health professionals see physical activity as an integral part of cancer after care, not just a optional add-on," Maher added.
The charity found that 1.6 million cancer survivors in the UK were not active enough.
While the number of cancer survivors in the United States increased to 11.7 million in 2007, and has increased by 20 percent over the last six years, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health.