The major physiologic contributor to cancer is the alteration of the DNA of pluripotent (self-renewing) stem cells such that they experience disordered growth and/or impairment in pre-programmed cell death. Exposure of cells to carcinogenic (cancer-causing) events such as environmental impact (tobacco smoke, radiation), hereditary factors, alteration in hormones (estrogen & progesterone), impaired immune system function, and/or oncogene expression can lead to tumor formation.
The signs and symptoms of cancer are broad and diagnosis is often paired with identification of risk factors and tissue biopsy. Treatment of cancer is broad and includes:
- active surveillance
- surgical intervention
- radiation and chemotherapy
- hormone therapy
- targeted therapy
In each case exercise is an excellent adjunct to support each intervention.
Unfortunately, cancer treatment accelerates the aging process, weakening physiological systems and increasing risk (both short- and long-term) for cardiovascular and metabolic disease. Again, exercise is key in reducing the impacts of cancer and cancer treatments.