Cardio-Oncology: Cancer Treatment and Exercise

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Whether you are new to exercise or have exercised for years, cancer treatments present unexpected challenges and risks for cancer patients or survivors. Talking to your health care team is one of the best ways to get the information you need to make informed decisions and stay safe when it comes to exercise.

Unfortunately, no single health professional will have the answer to all of your questions. You may need to approach several different health care professionals to get the information you need. Here are a few questions to answer before you begin exercising during or after cancer treatment.

Understand your risks

  • What are the cardiotoxicity risks associated with the treatments I am receiving or have received? 
  • If I am at risk, how is my heart health going to be monitored during and after treatment?
  • Is there anything I can do to reduce my risk of cardiotoxicity?

Have you been diagnosed with a heart condition?

  • Cardiomyopathy/Heart Failure
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Peripheral Artery Disease

Before you exercise

  • Are my blood counts normal?
  • Did the cancer spread to my bones or nervous system?
  • What types of exercise are safe for me with my pic-line / porta-cath / ostomy / implant?
  • Did I have any lymph nodes removed? Am I at risk for lymphedema?
  • Has my/when will my surgery be healed enough for me to begin exercising?
  • Is it safe to exercise the part of my body that received radiotherapy?

Published: September 2018
Authors: Scott C. Adams, PhD; Lee W. Jones, PhD; Jessica M. Scott, PhD
Medical Reviewers: Peggy Anthony; Jennifer Klemp; Bonnie Ky, MD, MSCE, FACC

These modules were developed in collaboration with the Eastern Cooperative Group—American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ECOG-ACRIN) Cardiotoxicity Working Group and Patient Advocacy Group.

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