Exercise & Cancer Recovery


C Schneider et al
Published by Human Kinetics Australia (2003)
ISBN:  0-7360-3645-8.  205 pages plus index.
RRP:  A$129.80

Cancer survivor rehabilitation remains a big challenge.  It should concern all involved with the care of cancer patients and their families. Accordingly, the appearance of a substantial book on the role of exercise in this recovery process is very welcome, and the format of this book allows it both to be read for information, and to be used as a teaching and service development resource, with recognition of its limitations.

The early chapters of the book present a very brief and basic overview of cancer pathology and the effects of cancer treatment and toxicity on physiological systems. At the very end of the second chapter, the authors make the unreferenced assertion that all patients treated within the six-month intervention program at their institute report significant improvements in quality of life. The authors thus exhort those of us who care for our patients to go and likewise incorporate exercise into our treatment regimes. In the following chapters, basic principles of exercise prescription are developed, and clearly illustrated from the experience of the treatment centre where the authors are the principal therapists. Indeed, the name or logo of the centre is clearly visible on the T-shirts worn by both therapists and models, throughout the book. It gave me the impression of product placement advertising.

The book suffers from two significant limitations, in my view.  First, the referencing is very patchy. Two papers by the books’ authors, quoted in each of the five central chapters of the book, are described as being manuscripts in preparation, not yet submitted, let alone accepted, and much of the rationale for what they describe in the later chapters rests on the content of these papers. In other places electronic references are cited which, on going to the cited web pages, are not now available to this reviewer. It is of historical interest that the authors were able to access these pages on a given past date, but it is of no intellectual use to the reader in the present, and should warn those who write of the impermanence of non-print citation.

Second, the book relies exclusively on the experience of the authors’ own centre, from an exercise physiology viewpoint, in a large and wealthy country where other cancer rehabilitation services have publicised their work and practice. These two factors limit the use of the book as a teaching aid, which is a pity.

To sum up, there is a lot of useful content, in an important area of cancer practice. The book has its place in the library of cancer rehabilitation. To balance its limitations, read it in comparison with the published experience from other disciplines working in the area of cancer rehabilitation.

AM Cole
Prosthetics & Orthotics Programs
University of NSW
Kensington, NSW

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