Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Physical activity and nutrition interventions for older adults with cancer: a systematic review

Forbes, Cynthia C.; Swan, Flavia; Greenley, Sarah L.; Lind, Michael; Johnson, Miriam J.


Profile Image

Dr Flavia Swan
Research fellow in cancer rehabilitation

Profile Image

Professor Michael Lind
Foundation Professor of Oncology/ Head of the Joint Centre for Cancer Studies


Purpose: The aim of this review was to summarize the current literature for the effectiveness of activity and nutritional based interventions on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in older adults living with and beyond cancer (LWBC). Methods: We conducted systematic structured searches of CINAHL, Embase, Medline, Cochrane CENTRAL databases, and bibliographic review. Two independent researchers selected against inclusion criteria: (1) lifestyle nutrition and/or activity intervention for people with any cancer diagnosis, (2) measured HRQoL, (3) all participants over 60years of age and (4) randomized controlled trials. Results: Searches identified 5179 titles; 114 articles had full text review, with 14 studies (participant n = 1660) included. Three had nutrition and activity components, one, nutrition only and ten, activity only. Duration ranged from 7days to 1year. Interventions varied from intensive daily prehabilitation to home-based gardening interventions. Studies investigated various HRQoL outcomes including fatigue, general and cancer-specific quality of life (QoL), distress, depression, global side-effect burden and physical functioning. Eight studies reported significant intervention improvements in one or more QoL measure. Seven studies reported using a psychosocial/theoretical framework. There is a gap in tailored nutrition advice. Conclusions: Among the few studies that targeted older adults with cancer, most were activity-based programmes with half reporting improvements in QoL. Future research should focus on or include tailored nutrition components and consider appropriate behaviour change techniques to maximize potential QoL improvement. Implications for Cancer Survivors: More research is needed to address the research gap regarding older adults as current recommendations are derived from younger populations.


Forbes, C. C., Swan, F., Greenley, S. L., Lind, M., & Johnson, M. J. (2020). Physical activity and nutrition interventions for older adults with cancer: a systematic review. Journal of cancer survivorship : research and practice, 14(5), 689-711.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Mar 31, 2020
Online Publication Date Apr 24, 2020
Publication Date 2020-10
Deposit Date Apr 1, 2020
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Journal of Cancer Survivorship
Print ISSN 1932-2259
Electronic ISSN 1932-2267
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 5
Pages 689-711
Keywords Neoplasms; Rehabilitation; Diet; Exercise; Well-being; Quality of life; Review; Aged; Health behaviour
Public URL
Publisher URL


Article (644 Kb)

Copyright Statement
©2020 The authors. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder

Published article (1 Mb)

Copyright Statement
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if<br /> changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

You might also like

Downloadable Citations