Ovarian cancer is the most common cause of gynaecological cancer death in Australian women, with an overall 5-year survival rate of only 44%, compared to a 5-year survival rate of 99% in women with localised breast cancer. Symptoms of ovarian cancer and side-effects from treatment can negatively impact a woman’s physical wellbeing and quality of life, with treatment typically involving extensive abdominal surgery and intense chemotherapy.
There are several position stands endorsed by national and international organisations (e.g. Clinical Oncology Society of Australia, Exercise and Sports Science Australia, American College of Sports Medicine) which outline the value of physical activity and exercise during and following cancer treatment. It has been shown in cancer populations, such as breast and prostate, that exercise during chemotherapy treatment can improve physical wellbeing and quality of life, as well as reducing the number and severity of side effects (e.g. pain and fatigue). It is hypothesised that exercise may also help women with ovarian cancer to better tolerate full chemotherapy doses (leading to improved survival) by lessening the severity of treatment-related side-effects and reducing treatment toxicity.