September 2023 | George M. Pikler, M.D., Ph.D., FACP

Keep Moving After Cancer

Three randomized control trials presented at the Chicago 2023 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), add weight to growing evidence that people with cancer who stay physically active are likely to feel better and live longer than those who don’t, even if they are just doing light exercise.

In the first research study, led by the University of Rochester Medical Center, 502 adults with an average age of 56, who had been treated for cancer between two months and five years earlier, were randomized to take yoga classes or to attend health-education meetings for a month. Each group took part in 75-minute sessions twice a week for four weeks. Those who did yoga had lower blood levels of inflammation-promoting markers than those who did not.

In the second study, led by the same institution,173 cancer patients aged 60 or older were enrolled on the trial. The participants were again split into two groups and randomly assigned to attend 75-minute yoga sessions or health education classes twice a week for four weeks. Yoga was found to be better at helping relieve fatigue and maintain quality of life, the research found.

The third study led by Dr. Jurema Telles de Oliveira Lima from the Instituto de Medicina Integral de Brazil, found cancer patients who are active can reduce their risk of dying by almost a fifth. This six-year research trial involved more than 2,600 cancer patients. The results showed the risk of death was higher in those with a sedentary lifestyle. After 180 days, 90% of people in the active group were still alive, compared with 74% in the sedentary group. According to Dr. Lima “anything cancer patients could do to avoid sitting or lying down for long periods, no matter how little, could be helpful. Even performing light chores could make a difference.” “We also have to educate the family,” she added. “We have to tell them that physical activity can be best for the patient and also on a psychological level as well.”

J Clin Oncol 41, 2023 (suppl 16, abstr 12111, 12023, 12058)

Erica Cross, PA


Erica is a board certified Physician Assistant. She obtained her Master’s degree in Physician Assistant studies from Our Lady of the Lake College in Baton Rouge, LA. She began practicing in 2011 and has worked clinically in Orthopedics and Dermatology. The majority of her career has been spent in a Dermatology practice where she assisted in Mohs surgery, treating various types of skin cancer. She also teaches in the medical simulation department at the University of South Alabama and enjoys every aspect of medical education.