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Exercise recommended for bowel cancer patients, research shows

For those recovering from bowel cancer, physical activity is linked to better survival and reduces the risk of cancer returning, as well as cancer-related fatigue, depression and anxiety.

The research is the largest of its kind, as more than 15,000 bowel cancer patients were questioned in a Cancer Research study from University College London (UCL).

Only a third (31%) of the patients questioned said that they were advised to do physical activity at any point during their treatment. Women, older patients and those from more deprived areas were less likely to say they received advice.

Lead author Dr Abi Fisher, senior researcher at the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre at UCL, said: “Our research suggests that advice on being active isn't in place yet, but we believe this should become a part of bowel cancer care.”

Commenting on the findings, Dr Richard Roope, Cancer Lead for the Royal College of GPs said: “It should definitely be seen as best practice to recommend low-impact exercise, such as walking, to patients in these situations.

“It is already happening in some parts of the country, with some areas offering NHS part-funded community exercise schemes that GPs can refer cancer patients to.”