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More than two thirds of bowel cancer patients do not get advice on exercise

Only 31% of bowel cancer patients surveyed for study were given advice on benefits of brisk physical activity

More than two thirds (69%) of bowel cancer patients are not advised to exercise regularly despite evidence that brisk physical activity would improve their chances of survival, according to a study published today. 

The study from the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Health Behaviour Research Centre at University College London involved asking more than 15,000 bowel cancer patients about their level of physical activity and whether they were advised to be more active by a healthcare professional after their diagnosis. 

It found only 31% were told, at any point during their treatment, to do physical activity – women, patients aged 85 and over, and those from more deprived areas were less likely to get the advice. 

Lead author Abi Fisher, a senior researcher at the centre, said: ‘Our research suggests that advice on being active is not in place yet, but this should become a part of bowel cancer care.’

'We are keen to boost the number of health professionals promoting physical activity by finding simple but effective ways to give this important advice.'

Patients who said they were given advice were more likely to be physically active than those who said they were not given this information. 

There are no clinical guidelines in the UK on providing advice to bowel cancer patients about physical activity, but CRUK said several studies show it is safe and beneficial for most patients. 

Read more about the study on the BMJ Open website

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