Healthy lifestyle against cancer recurrence

By adapting a patients lifestyle after successful cancer treatment, doctors hope to reduce the risk of recurrence of the disease. The programme for improving lifestyle prognosis is initiated by the Radboudumc, Nutrition Lives and Association of Doctors and Lifestyle.

In a quarter of all cancer patients initially treated successfully, the cancer returns within a few years and often with a bad outcome. There is evidence that that risk can be reduced by a healthy lifestyle and there is no proven effective programme to which doctors can refer. The three parties are therefore joining forces to develop this treatment, focusing on exercise, nutrition, sleep and relaxation.

Never blame

“The medical treatment of cancer often has an enormous impact on the body and life of cancer patients”, says Nicoline Hoogerbrugge, professor of hereditary cancer at the Radboudumc. “By seeing lifestyle as part of the treatment, patients do not only have to undergo the treatment and can also exert influence themselves”

The most important way to prevent the recurrence of cancer is surgery, radiotherapy or medication,” says Bart Kiemeney, professor of cancer epidemiology at the Radboudumc. “At the same time, a healthy lifestyle has beneficial effects on the patients immune system. It can slow tumour growth. But of course patients should never blame themselves if a tumour does come back. After all, cancer is a disease that cannot be controlled just like that. Above all, if the disease does come back, you will have simply had bad luck, whether you had a good or a less good lifestyle. At a group level, however, we do see that the risk of cancer recurring is lower in patients with a healthy lifestyle

Prevention after the disease

CEO Bertine Lahuis of the Radboudumc: “There is a lot of attention for prevention nowadays when it comes to preventing diseases, but attention must also be paid to prevention after the disease.

In the coming period, Radboudumc and Nutrition Lives invite healthcare professionals, scientists and patients to participate in setting up this lifestyle programme. KWF Kankerbestrijding, the Dutch Society for Medical Oncology, Integral Cancer Centre the Netherlands and health insurer VGZ have expressed their support for the initiative.