13 SepProstate Cancer- Management with Exercise

Did you know that prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in Australian men with 1 in 6 men being diagnosed by the age of 85? [1] 

Prostate cancer is more prevalent in older men as 63% of diagnosed cases are in men over the age of 65 years old [1] Furthermore, it is the third most common cause of cancer death in Australia [1]. 

So how can we manage prostate cancer? 

There are numerous treatment options that are recommended for prostate cancer. The most common ones are Androgen Deprivation therapy (ADT), chemotherapy and radiation therapy. ADT reduces your testosterone levels in your body and is used to shrink the cancer cells, slowing the growth rate. However, individuals who undergo Androgen Deprivation therapy (ADT) are susceptible to side effects such as reduced muscle mass and strength, loss of bone mineral density and an increased developmental risk of heart disease and diabetes [2] 

It is often asked how exercise can help people with prostate cancer as the prevalence is so high, and the adverse treatment side effects can vary greatly. However, in prostate cancer rehabilitation exercise has been shown to be a countermeasure for treatment side effects [3]. 

Exercise can help improve and manage treatment side effects experienced while going through Androgen Deprivation Theory (ADT). Specifically, exercise has been shown to help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and improve muscle strength, quality of life and physical function [2]. 

So, what kind of exercise is the best option? 

Studies have shown that consistent weekly physical activity reduces prostate cancer relapse rates and increases survival rates [4]. A combination of aerobic, strength, flexibility and balance training performed 3 days per week for 12 weeks, has also shown to result in improvements in physical function, falls risk, body composition, exercise tolerance, fatigue, muscular strength, and quality of life [5] 

When the prostate cancer is advanced, it can spread to your bones and lead to bone metastatic disease. This degeneration of bone density can lead to a significant increase in falls and fracture risks [2]. There is a common stigma about the dangers of exercising with bone metastatic disease and increased fracture risk. However, numerous studies have found that safe and appropriately tailored multimodal and strength training can improve physical function, muscle strength, lean mass and significantly reduce fracture and falls risk [6]. 

It is important that your exercise programs are tailored to your specific treatment side effects, cancer diagnosis, and goals. Exercise physiologists can help provide these tailored programs that will help manage and improve your health and wellbeing. Talk to our exercise physiologists to see how they can help you with your health and exercise goals. 

Tara McClintock

4th Year Clinical Exercise Physiology Student 



[1] Cancer Council. (2021). Retrieved 31 August 2021, from https://www.cancer.org.au/assets/pdf/understanding-prostate-cancer-booklet 

[2] Keilani, M., Hasenoehrl, T., Baumann, L., Ristl, R., Schwarz, M., Marhold, M., Sedghi Komandj, T., & Crevenna, R. (2017). Effects of resistance exercise in prostate cancer patients: a meta-analysis. Supportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer, 25(9), 2953–2968. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-017-3771-z 

[3] Zdravkovic, A., Hasenöhrl, T., Palma, S., & Crevenna, R. (2020). Effects of resistance exercise in prostate cancer patients : A systematic review update as of March 2020. Wiener klinische Wochenschrift, 132(15-16), 452–463. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00508-020-01713-x 

[4] Lam, T., Birzniece, V., McLean, M., Gurney, H., Hayden, A., & Cheema, B. (2020). The Adverse Effects of Androgen Deprivation Therapy in Prostate Cancer and the Benefits and Potential Anti-oncogenic Mechanisms of Progressive Resistance Training. Sports Medicine – Open, 6(1). doi: 10.1186/s40798-020-0242-8 

[5] Galvão, D. A., Taaffe, D. R., Spry, N., Cormie, P., Joseph, D., Chambers, S. K., Chee, R., Peddle-McIntyre, C. J., Hart, N. H., Baumann, F. T., Denham, J., Baker, M., & Newton, R. U. (2018). Exercise Preserves Physical Function in Prostate Cancer Patients with Bone Metastases. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 50(3), 393–399. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000001454 

[6] Cormie, P., Newton, R. U., Spry, N., Joseph, D., Taaffe, D. R., & Galvão, D. A. (2013). Safety and efficacy of resistance exercise in prostate cancer patients with bone metastases. Prostate cancer and prostatic diseases, 16(4), 328–335. https://doi.org/10.1038/pcan.2013.22