Category Archives: General

The Role of Physical Activity in Cancer: A Refreshing Perspective

Diverse Hands Holding The Word Exercise

Physical activity plays an important role in the health, well-being, and quality of life for all Canadians. However, few would think that exercise can help those people who are currently battling cancer themselves. Stereotypical depictions of cancer patients and the treatments they receive has caused many Canadians to believe that bedrest is the only option for someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. Although bed rest may be required during intense periods of treatment, physical activity is not always a bad thing, and is usually encouraged. In fact, numerous studies have shown that physical activity is not only effective at improving cancer patients’ health outcomes, but also in their caregivers’ health.1

After receiving treatment, many cancer patients do not get enough physical activity, and as a result, they develop more sedentary lifestyles. Inactivity is a major factor in determining their overall health outcomes, including their own cancer prognoses, and can impact the rate of cancer recurrence.2 Thus, getting sufficient physical activity should be a priority for anyone who has or has had cancer.

Fortunately, exercise can take many shapes and forms – it doesn’t always mean going to the gym, lifting weights, or even doing strenuous cardiovascular activity. Fitness gaming, or “exergaming” – a term used for video games that are also a form of exercise – is a new form of physical activity that relies on technology to track body movements and reactions. Compared with traditional non-active video games, exergaming can contribute to significant amounts of overall daily physical activity, particularly in those who cannot engage in traditional forms of exercise.3

Despite knowing the value of exercise in cancer, depression, which is commonly co-diagnosed with cancer, can be a significant barrier to getting sufficient physical activity. Although the symptoms of depression (including low mood, decreased motivation, poor energy, and decreased sleep) may undermine someone’s ability to get exercise or even get out of bed, activity itself may be a suitable treatment to address depression symptoms, particularly in young adults.4

Overall, the research shows that exercise and physical activity can benefit people with cancer in numerous ways. The message we’d like to communicate is that if you can get any physical activity, you will reap many benefits!


  • Ann Behav Med. 2016 Jul 20. A Descriptive Systematic Review of Physical Activity Interventions for Caregivers: Effects on Caregivers’ and Care Recipients’ Psychosocial Outcomes, Physical Activity Levels, and Physical Health. Lambert SD, Duncan LR, Kapellas S, Bruson AM, Myrand M, Santa Mina D, Culos-Reed N, Lambrou A.
  • Ann Epidemiol. 2014 Nov;24(11):837-42. Identification and prediction of physical activity trajectories in women treated for breast cancer. Brunet J, Amireault S, Chaiton M, Sabiston CM.
  • J Phys Act Health. 2015 Jun;12(6):789-93. doi: 10.1123/jpah.2013-0447. Epub 2014 Aug 15. The Association Between Exergaming and Physical Activity in Young Adults. Kakinami L, O’Loughlin EK, Dugas EN, Sabiston CM, Paradis G, O’Loughlin J.
  • Prev Med. 2014 Sep;66:45-8. Physical activity motivation mediates the association between depression symptoms and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Scarapicchia TM, Sabiston CM, O’Loughlin E, Brunet J, Chaiton M, O’Loughlin JL.


This article was written by Dr. Anees Bahji, Psychiatry Resident at Queen’s University.

2015 Canadian Cancer Statistics released by the Canadian Cancer Society highlights importance of cancer research

Cancer remains the leading cause of death among Canadians. The Canadian Cancer Society, in partnership with Statistics Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, released the annual 2015 Canadian Cancer Statistics report in May. This report provides comprehensive statistical information on cancer in Canada, including incidence, mortality and relative survival rates. These statistics are vital to the progress and promise of cancer research, by informing health professionals, policy leaders, and researchers to help improve the quality of life for cancer patients and survivors and reduce cancer incidence and mortality rates.

CCS 2015 ReportWhile the number of cancer cases is on the rise, the survival rates continue to improve compared to what was observed over 10 years ago. Unique to this year’s report is an inclusion of a section on the future burden of cancer in Canada – in fact, it is expected that the Canadian cancer incidence rate, or the annual number of new cancer cases, will rise 79% by 2028-2032 in comparison to the rates from 2003-2007! While our aging population is the main factor for this dramatic anticipated increase in cancer rates, this report highlights the importance of expanding our cancer research efforts in order to further understand the complexities of the different diseases that make up cancer, which will ultimately lead to earlier diagnosis and new treatment advances for the growing number of people diagnosed with cancer.

Researchers at the Queen’s Cancer Research Institute (QCRI) in Kingston, Ontario are actively exploring various aspects of cancer research, including understanding basic cancer biology, performing relevant cancer clinical trials, and conducting cancer etiology (causes) studies at the population level. QCRI researchers share hopes of developing novel prevention, detection and treatment options for cancer.

One such researcher is Dr. Christopher Mueller, who is currently working on developing a blood-based cancer detection test that will allow for earlier and more accurate diagnosis of cancer in the near future. The Queen’s campus is also home to the NCIC Clinical Trials Group, consisting of researchers, clinicians, and biostatisticians, among others, that develops and conducts cancer clinical trials across Canada, and internationally.

Ongoing cancer research efforts at Queen’s University, across Canada, and globally, will hopefully allow us to effectively combat the anticipated future burden of cancer in Canada.

For full access to the Canadian Cancer Statistics publication, please check out the Canadian Cancer Society’s website:

This article is written by Piriya Yoganathan, a PhD candidate in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, and part of the Collaborative Graduate Program in Cancer Research at Queen’s University.

Kingston’s RIOT brings positive cancer research news to the community

When the Kingston RIOT team formed in October 2014, we had a vision to share our passion for cancer research with the public and to add a voice to the research that is happening in our own backyard – at the Queen’s Cancer Research Institute (QCRI). After only a few brainstorming sessions, events started taking shape.

To date, we have participated in outreach events that have introduced the research scientists, the types of research, and the progress we’re making in cancer research.

Community Presentations

Kelly B - Belleville TalkAs volunteers of the Canadian Cancer Society, we have been asked to speak at several local volunteer appreciation events. Kelly Brennan, a Master’s student in the department of Epidemiology, has given talks in Kingston and Belleville. She discussed the different types of research happening at the QCRI, which ranges from prevention research, basic science, and population studies, to clinical trials.

KTW_ArticlePicNewspaper Articles

We recently published our first newspaper article in Kingston This Week. In this article, we introduced our RIOT members to the Kingston public, highlighting our goals and vision. Stay tuned for upcoming articles discussing different types of cancer research as well as articles delving into the complexity of cancer and research focused on the different cancer subtypes (lung, breast, etc).

Let’s Talk Cancer Event

A big initiative, co-sponsored by Let’s Talk Science, was our Let’s Talk Cancer event held in May 2015. Over 40 high school students attended to learn about cancer and the research that is happening at the QCRI. Speakers included members of RIOT, as well as Queen’s University faculty members Lois Mulligan and David Berman, the director of the NCIC Cancer Clinical Trials group Janet Dancey, and a cancer survivor Emma Maclean. Through this initiative, we hoped to inspire the younger generation and give them a glimpse into cancer research, highlighting both the complexity of the disease as well as the significant progress we are making in fighting this disease. Let’s Talk Cancer was a big success and we received media coverage of the event. Check out some of the local reports:

QCRI Open House & Lab Tours

Our most recent event, an open house held for volunteers, staff and donors of the Canadian Cancer Society, was another huge success! At this event, faculty recently funded by the Canadian Cancer Society shared the promise of their research in our fight against cancer. Other speakers included RIOT member Mathieu Crupi, and QCRI faculty members from both basic science and clinical trials. Those attending the open house were also offered a tour of the research facility where they could witness what happens in the day-to-day of cancer research. The media were also invited and some of their reports can be found here:

Summer/Fall 2015

Throughout the summer, we will have several more newspaper articles and blog articles published. And, in September, we will be making more presentations at local community events, including:

  • September 9th: opening night of the play Calendar Girls at the Grand Theatre in Kingston, Ontario.
  • September 19th: Mudmoiselle – a five kilometre muddy obstacle course for women and fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Stay tuned and visit our blog regularly to learn more about the exciting cancer research happening locally and abroad!