Breast Cancer

Your journey to better health

Cancers are diseases where abnormal cells grow quickly and can spread beyond their usual boundaries to other parts of the body impairing regular function, and causing death in a process called metastases. Cancer is a leading cause of death globally, killing 9.6 million people in 2018, costing US$1.16 trillion in 2010.  6.6% of those deaths were from breast cancer.

Around 40% of breast cancer deaths are attributable to alcohol use, overweight, and physical inactivity, which is why it is referred to as a lifestyle disease.  It is the most common cancer in women, and whilst the incidence of breast cancer is higher in the developed world, almost half deaths occur in less developed countries, largely due to limited access to, screening, diagnosis and medical care. 

Beach jog

The good news

Community sport-based interventions cannot alter breast cancer risk factors like family history, genetic risk or prolonged exposure to estrogen, but they could help reduce risk in people who have a higher risk lifestyle. Post-diagnosis physical activity has been shown to reduce breast cancer deaths by 34%, and all cause mortality by 41%.  Exercise is recommended in cancer care in Australia to help patients overcome the adverse impacts of treatment, and reduce mortality.

For breast cancer survivors who do not have access to hospital or health-led exercise programs, and who need support, Dragons Abreast a modified form of dragon-boating, has supported survivors to be physically active for over 20 years. It may also help with sleep and recovery. Other community sport-based programs that benefit survivors, are beginning to make it into the academic literature and manistream media. 

Following participants in community sport-based interventions to 5 years post diagnosis, and comparing their outcomes with as-usual care, would be invaluable to help physicians, health leaders and governments understand the impact of community sport-based interventions on breast cancer care and recovery.  Sport Prescriptions will make measurement and follow-up easier, to help improve the understanding of what works for survivors, and to support the expansion of great programs to help more people recover from this disease.