Patients cite a recommendation from the oncologist and oncology team as an important factor in their decision to exercise or follow dietary advice. Yet many oncologists, while acknowledging the importance of these interventions, fail to recommend them.1,15 Simple messaging that adopts the smoking cessation 5As approach (ask, advise, assess, assist, arrange) is useful for initiating discussion and reinforcing with patients the importance of nutrition and physical activity to their long-term health.1 Tool kits available from the American Society of Clinical Oncology are available to help oncology teams build knowledge and confidence in providing physical activity and weight management counseling (

In summary, to maximize their postcancer lives, patients must be encouraged to adhere with guidelines-recommended diets. From a practice point of view, the oncology nurse is in a valuable position to work closely with patients during and after treatment to educate, encourage, and reinforce the importance of healthy lifestyles.

Continue Reading

Leslie Burgess is a medical writer based in Los Angeles, California.


1. Demark-Wahnefried W, Rogers LQ, Alfano CM, et al. Practical clinical interventions for diet, physical activity, and weight control in cancer survivors [published online ahead of print February 13, 2015]. CA Cancer J Clin. 2015.

2. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2015. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society; 2015.

3. Wang Z, McLoone P, Morrison DS. Diet, exercise, obesity, smoking, and alcohol consumption in cancer survivors and the general population: a comparative study of 16 282 individuals. Br J Cancer. 2015;112(3):572-575.

4. National Cancer Institute: Nutrition in Cancer Care (PDQ): Other nutrition issues. Updated Sept. 3, 2014. Accessed March 23, 2014.

5. Rock CL, Doyle C, Demark-Wahnefried W, et al. Nutrition and physical activity guidelines for cancer survivors. CA Cancer J Clin. 2012;62(4):243-274.

6. Bälter K, Möller E, Fondell E. The effect of dietary guidelines on cancer risk and mortality. Curr Opin Oncol. 2012;24(1):90-102.

7. Meyerhardt JA, Niedzwiecki D, Hollis D, et al. Association of dietary patterns with cancer recurrence and survival in patients with stage III colon cancer. JAMA. 2007;298(7):754-764.

8. Meyerhardt JA, Sato K, Niedzwiecki D, et al. Dietary glycemic load and cancer recurrence and survival in patients with stage III colon cancer: findings from CALGB 89803. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2012;104(22):1702-1711.

9.Vrieling A, Buck K, Seibold P, et al. Dietary patterns and survival in German postmenopausal breast cancer survivors. Br J Cancer. 2013;108(1):188-192.

10. Chlebowski RT, Blackburn GL, Thomson CA, et al. Dietary fat reduction and breast cancer outcome: interim efficacy results from the Women’s Intervention Nutrition Study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2006;98(24):1767-1776.

11. Kim H, Suh EE, Lee HJ, Yang HK. The effects of patient participation-based dietary intervention on nutritional and functional status for patients with gastrectomy: a randomized controlled trial. Cancer Nurs. 2014;37(2):E10-E20.

12. Ravasco P, Monteiro-Grillo I, Camillo M. Individualized nutrition intervention is of major benefit to colorectal cancer patients: long-term follow-up of a randomized controlled trial of nutritional therapy. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;96(6):1346-1353.

13. Huebner J, Marienfeld S, Abbenhardt C, et al. Counseling patients on cancer diets: a review of the literature and recommendations for clinical practice. Anticancer Res. 2014;34(1):39-48.

14. Courneya KS, Friedenreich CM, Quinney HA, et al. A longitudinal study of exercise barriers in colorectal cancer survivors participating in a randomized controlled trial. Ann Behav Med. 2005;29(2):147-153.

15. Jones LW, Courneya KS, Peddle C, Mackey JR. Oncologists’ opinions towards recommending exercise to patients with cancer: a Canadian national survey. Support Care Cancer. 2005;13(11):929-937.