Our Cancer Prevention Recommendation for after a cancer diagnosis is to follow our Recommendations, if you can. Check with your health professional what is right for you.

Cancer survivors are people who have been diagnosed with cancer, including those who have recovered from the disease.

The Expert Panel has made this judgement based on its examination of the evidence, including that specifically on breast cancer survivors, and on its collective knowledge of the biology of cancer and its interactions with diet, nutrition, physical activity and body fatness

Emerging research on cancer survivorship

Research on the effects of diet, nutrition and physical activity on the risk of cancer in cancer survivors is growing.

However, to date the Expert Panel has reviewed the evidence for the effects of these lifestyle factors only on survival and future risk of breast cancer.

There is a lack of evidence from randomised controlled trials. In addition, the quality of most published observational studies has been limited because they did not adequately account for factors such as cancer subtypes, type and intensity of treatment, and other illnesses.

Breast cancer survivors

Persuasive evidence in breast cancer survivors

The evidence is persuasive that nutritional factors (in particular body fatness) and physical activity reliably predict important outcomes from breast cancer. However, the evidence that changing these factors would alter the clinical course of breast cancer is limited, particularly by the quality of published studies.

Diet, nutrition and physical activity in cancer survivors

The Panel agrees that the conclusions underpinning the Cancer Prevention Recommendations are also likely to be relevant to cancer survivors and recommend that, as far as possible, cancer survivors aim to follow these Recommendations once treatment has finished. There may be specific situations where this advice may not apply and guidance from health professionals may be needed.

Goals

  • All cancer survivors should receive nutritional care and physical activity guidance from trained professionals
  • Unless otherwise advised, and if they can, all cancer survivors are advised to follow the Cancer Prevention Recommendations as far as possible after the acute stage of treatment
Giota Mitrou, World Cancer Research Fund International“One important study that we have been supporting for cancer survivors is in Australia looking at whether activity monitors can increase physical activity and decrease sitting times in breast cancer survivors. It is very important to understand better the role of physical activity in relation to cancer”
– Dr Giota Mitrou, World Cancer Research Fund International's Director of Research Funding and Science External Relations

Public health and policy implications

More people are surviving cancer than ever before, at least in part because of earlier detection and the increasing success of treatment for many cancers. As a result, cancer survivors are living long enough to develop new primary cancers or other NCDs. Following the Cancer Prevention Recommendations may improve survival and reduce the risks of cancer and of other NCDs, and so can be recommended on that basis. 

A comprehensive whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach is necessary to create environments for cancer survivors that are conducive to following the Cancer Prevention Recommendations, and future, more specific evidence-based recommendations for cancer survivors. 

Our Recommendations work together as an overall way of living healthily to prevent cancer. Download the full chapter PDF below