Cancer patients across Yorkshire to take part in ground breaking exercise trial

23 October 2023

Hundreds of people with cancer across Yorkshire will have the chance to take part in a ground breaking exercise clinical trial funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research.

The CANFit study, led by the Wolfson Palliative Care Research Centre at Hull York Medical School at the University of Hull, will investigate how exercise improves people’s chances of surviving three types of cancer. It will also look at how exercise reduces the likelihood of these cancers returning.

From October 2023, people with early-stage breast, lung and bowel cancer will be offered a personalised exercise programme shortly after they have completed their programme of cancer treatment. Patients will be invited to take part by oncologists, research nurses, and cancer nursing specialists. Approximately, 660 cancer patients across Yorkshire will be recruited to the study at the Queen’s Oncology Centre at Castle Hill Hospital, part of Hull University Hospitals NHS Trust, and Weston Park Cancer Centre, part of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Lead researcher Dr Cindy Forbes, a Research Fellow at the Wolfson Palliative Care Research Centre at Hull York Medical School at the University of Hull said: "While exercise is known to help people recover better and also improve quality of life, its impact on increasing cancer survival and preventing cancer returning is less understood. Although evidence is increasing, there is a clear need for further research to provide more definitive conclusions."

Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research said: "We know that exercise is an essential part of a cancer patient’s treatment. However, we need to generate more evidence to help drive forward worldwide understanding of the types and amounts of exercise that will have the most impact.

"This clinical trial will help improve survival by gathering vital data to help shape future exercise programmes for people with cancer in Yorkshire and beyond. By funding studies and services across the region, Yorkshire Cancer Research aims to make a significant contribution to worldwide knowledge of how exercise can help people with cancer while enabling people in Yorkshire to benefit first."

Evidence shows that exercise before, during and after a cancer diagnosis can increase treatment options, while reducing side effects and complications and speeding up recovery from other treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy.

Exercise can also increase the likelihood of survival. It can reduce the risk of dying from cancer by up to 44% in those who are physically active compared to those who are inactive1, and the risk of cancer coming back in the future could be reduced by up to 66%2.

Patients taking part in the trial will complete a six-month supervised exercise programme, before being monitored over a two-year period. They will be compared with patients with the same cancers who are receiving standard NHS treatment.

Prof Fliss Murtagh, Director of the Wolfson Palliative Care Research Centre said: "We are delighted that Yorkshire Cancer Research has recognised the importance of this innovative work on the role of exercise in influencing the chances of survival from cancer and risk of cancer coming back. We look forward to working with the charity to take this programme forward."

The study and exercise programme have been developed in collaboration with Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Science at the University of Hull, and the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University.

For media enquiries contact: University of Hull Press Office, telephone: +44 (0)1482 465268 or email