A review of exercise interventions to improve bone health in adult cancer survivors

Kerri M. Winters-Stone, Anna Schwartz, Lillian M. Nail

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Introduction: Cancer-treatment induced bone loss and associated fracture risk is a growing concern for cancer survivors. Exercise offers a non-pharmacologic strategy for preserving bone health during and after treatment, but only until recently has it been studied for its efficacy and safety in cancer survivors. The purpose of this review is to provide an early qualitative evaluation of exercise trials in adult cancer survivors with bone health as a primary or secondary endpoint. Methods: Databases were searched for exercise trials in adult cancer survivors that reported data on bone health (bone mineral density (BMD) and/or bone remodeling markers) as an outcome measure and were published and indexed prior to January 1st, 2010. Data relevant to evaluation of study design, sample, exercise protocol, bone health assessment, statistical approach and findings were extracted, summarized and interpreted. Results: Eight trials were identified that met criteria for inclusion in the review. While most studies were conducted in breast cancer survivors, remaining study attributes including rigor, design, exercise program characteristics and length varied considerably across studies. Only three of the eight studies were controlled exercise trials with usual care control groups. Of these, two reported significant group × time interactions where aerobic exercise preserved BMD at the spine or whole body compared to losses in controls and none reported exercise benefits at the hip. Conclusions: The recent emergence of exercise studies in cancer survivors with bone outcomes highlights the importance of this area of cancer survivorship. Collectively, the studies are limited in number and are too varied to warrant conclusions regarding the skeletal benefits of exercise during or after cancer treatment, though early results are encouraging and more rigorous study should follow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-201
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone fracture
  • Intervention studies
  • Neoplasms
  • Osteoporosis
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)


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