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Exercise and Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer amongst men. It is often referred to as the ‘old man’s disease’ with the average diagnosis age being 71 years. Risk factors may include age (>50yrs), family history, poor diet and sedentary lifestyle.


Prostate cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer due to various forms of treatments available. Common treatments include:

  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Prostatectomy 
  • Androgen Deprivation Therapy (ADT - hormone treatment)


How can exercise help?

Exercise plays a vital role in maintaining the individual’s health and wellbeing, especially men undergoing treatment such as ADT-hormone treatment. Androgens are a class of male hormones that control the development and maintenance of male characteristics such as testosterone. In the early stages, androgens make the prostate cancer grow and develop, which is why it is extremely important early detection is made.


Exercise helps manage the impacts of ADT. ADT stops the production of male hormones and therefore they may experience the following side effects:

  • Decreased bone mineral density
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Increased fatigue
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Increased depression 


What type of exercise is best?

Aerobic and resistance-band (muscle strengthening) exercise

  • Safe and beneficial exercise and includes walking, cycling, jumping and high impact exercises
  • If an individual has severe osteoporosis or if the cancer has metastasized to the skeletal system, a modified program is best in order to reduce fractures
  • An exercise program should not exclude exercises that load the skeleton as this can increase bone loss

Moderate intensity exercise

  • Recommended and is the level of exercise that makes someone puff which is influenced by fitness and presence of cancer related symptoms
  • For individuals beginning an exercise program, it is important to start at a low to moderate level and gradually increase intensity
  • For individuals already exercising, it is likely safe to exercise at a high intensity but again, it is important to gradually progress to this level


References

Exercise Right. 2022. Prostate cancer. [online] Available at: <https://exerciseright.com.au/prostate-cancer/>