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Exercise is medicine for prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Australian men, and is the leading cause of cancer morbidity and mortality. There are various treatment strategies, the most common being surgical removal of the prostate, Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT) and radiation therapy.

ADT therapy is a type of hormone therapy that controls cancer cells by reducing androgen levels in the body. Although effective, it involves various adverse effects such as increased body fat and reduced bone mineral density. These adverse effects can progress to osteoporosis, increased risk of obesity, sarcopenia, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.


Exercise has multifaceted positive effects on body systems. It is said to have a protective effect from cancer as it modulates hormone levels, assists with body composition and maintenance of muscle mass, enhances immune function and reduces oxidative stress.

Extensive research has shown that exercise can assist with preventing cancer recurrence and survivorship. More specifically for prostate cancer, exercise can have a beneficial effect on urinary incontinence and treatment-related fatigue.

Evidence has shown that aerobic and resistance exercise can increase lean muscle mass and reduced fat mass. Furthermore, there was greater efficacy for exercise consistency over 6 months, and exercise immediately after cancer therapy versus delayed exercise therapy. Additionally, resistance and impact-loading type of exercises promote bone rebuilding, and improves bone density particularly through the lumbar spine and femoral neck. This assists in reducing risk of fractures and therefore, assists with maintaining functional independence.

Exercise can assist with preventing cancer recurrence and survivorship.


  • A 2008 study found that regular exercise after cancer diagnosis will increase cancer survival rates by 50-60%, with the strongest effect on breast, colorectal and prostate cancers

  • A 2021 Systematic Review in Western Australia showed that In patients undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer, exercise resulted in significant reductions in fatigue

  • A 2021 Systematic Review on the effect of exercise during radiation therapy showed that exercise can show improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, muscle strength, but also work to mitigate urinary toxicity. The individuals completed either home-based, clinic-based or a combination exercise program, that consisted of both aerobic and resistance type exercise for 4-24 weeks

  • The same 2021 Systematic Review showed that exercise was able to produce a reduction in psychological distress and depressive symptom in men undergoing prostate cancer treatment

  • A 2020 Meta-Analysis involving over 2,000 men demonstrated that Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercise (PFME) has beneficial effects on urinary incontinence, from 3-6 months post surgery. These effects were particularly evident for those completing higher volume supervised PFME in the 6 months following surgery.


Ultimately, exercise has been shown to be not only safe for individuals going through prostate cancer treatment, but highly beneficial on physical function, urinary symptoms and overall quality of life.

Engaging in exercise with the guidance of a knowledgeable health professional will empower the individual with condition-relevant education and assist with functional capacity and cancer survivorship. There is no one size fits all, and our Exercise Physiologists are perfectly placed to provide tailored exercise programs to assist you with your treatment journey and beyond.

Find out more about our Cancer Rehab Programs or book an appointment to see one of our experienced Exercise Physiologists



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