Newly diagnosed cancer patients should be prescribed fitness plans
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Newly diagnosed cancer patients should be prescribed fitness plans

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Put simply, being physically ‘unfit’ is associated with increased risks and complications during treatment
– Lucy Allen

Leading UK cancer charities have called for newly diagnosed to be prescribed exercise and nutrition plans, in order to help their recovery.

Macmillan Cancer Support, the Royal College of Anaesthetists, the National Institute for Health Research Cancer and Nutrition Collaboration have published a report calling for changes to the delivery of cancer care across the UK.

The quartet is looking for greater focus to be placed on prehabilitation – which includes nutrition, physical activity and psychological support.

Recommendations in the Prehabilitation for people with cancer report include providing interventions targeted at improving physical and/or mental health – and for them to start as early as possible.

It also states that prehabilitation – as a component of rehabilitation – should underpin the whole cancer pathway and is an approach that should be adopted for all people with cancer.

It also calls for health professionals to be trained sufficiently to understand the benefits of physical activity.

"Education in exercise and behavioural change should be integrated throughout the undergraduate and postgraduate training of health and care professionals," it states.

June Davis, advisor for allied health professionals at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Prehabilitation supports people to prepare both physically and mentally for treatment, reclaim a sense of control and improve their health in the long-term.

“We want to see prehabilitation implemented soon after diagnosis so that people living with cancer feel empowered to improve their health and get the personalised care they need.

"To make this a reality we urgently need the Government to invest in the NHS workforce so that there are enough professionals with the right skills and resources to deliver this care now and in the future.”

Dr Lucy Allen, head of collaborations, National Institute of Health Research, added: “Put simply, being physically, nutritionally and psychologically ‘unfit’ is associated with increased risks and complications during treatment.

"The challenge, therefore, is to identify those who are at risk and prepare them ahead of their treatment in an attempt to reduce their risks and complications, and improve their response to treatment.”

To download and read the report, click here (downloads as a PDF document).

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Leading UK cancer charities have called for newly diagnosed to be prescribed exercise and nutrition plans, in order to help their recovery.
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