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Cancer – Helps depression

Helps depression

Evidence summary

During treatment

Meta-analysis demonstrated slight improvement in depression in all cancers, however no clear effect on depression was seen in a systematic review on breast cancer.[4, 10]

2 RCTs and a systematic review have demonstrated no clear change in anxiety levels in studies for all cancer types and breast cancer respectively.[4, 11]

Improved sleep quality was demonstrated from meta-analysis involving walking interventions.[12]

No improvement in quality of life was demonstrated in meta-analysis and systematic reviews for breast or prostate cancer, however for head and neck cancers there was control or improvement.[4, 6, 8]

Quality of evidence

Moderate quality – heterogenous studies with different interventions

Strength of recommendation

Weak – varied due to different outcomes


Depression has been shown to have slight improvement. No change was seen in anxiety. Only walking interventions have been examined for sleep quality and there is a lack of clear evidence for quality of life.


Van Moll, C.C., et al., The effect of training during treatment with chemotherapy on muscle strength and endurance capacity: A systematic review. Acta Oncol, 2016. 55(5): p. 539-46.

Stene, G.B., et al., Effect of physical exercise on muscle mass and strength in cancer patients during treatment–a systematic review. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol, 2013. 88(3): p. 573-93.

Buffart, L.M., et al., Effects and moderators of exercise on quality of life and physical function in patients with cancer: An individual patient data meta-analysis of 34 RCTs. Cancer Treat Rev, 2017. 52: p. 91-104.

Furmaniak, A.C., M. Menig, and M.H. Markes, Exercise for women receiving adjuvant therapy for breast cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 2016. 9: p. CD005001.