Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 501–510 | Cite as

Adolescents and young adult cancer survivors: exercise habits, quality of life and physical activity preferences

  • A. MurnaneEmail author
  • K. Gough
  • K. Thompson
  • L. Holland
  • R. Conyers
Original Article



Given the decades of survivorship for adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer survivors, it is important to promote behaviours that enhance physical and mental well-being and quality of life (QoL). The purpose of this study was to explore the exercise programming preferences and information needs of AYA survivors and to examine the impact of a cancer diagnosis on physical activity behavior and QoL.


Participants aged 15–25 years at time of diagnosis and referred to a specialist AYA cancer service between January 2008 and February 2012 were recruited. Eligible participants were mailed a self-administered questionnaire assessing demographic and disease-related information, physical activity levels over time and exercise information preferences. QoL was measured using the Assessment of Quality of Life-6D (AQoL-6D).


Seventy-four (response rate 52 %) participants completed the questionnaire. The mean age was 23 years with 54 % female, with prevalent diagnoses included hematological malignancy (45 %) and sarcoma (24 %). Results indicated a significant reduction in the average minutes of physical activity post diagnosis (p = <0.001) and during treatment (p = <0.001). AYA who met public health physical activity guidelines (n = 36) at questionnaire completion had significantly higher QoL than those not meeting the guidelines (n = 38) (median (Mdn) = 0.87, interquartile range (IQR) = 0.73 to 0.98 and Mdn = 0.81, IQR = 0.57 to 0.93, respectively; p = 0.034). Most participants wanted exercise information at some point after diagnosis (85 %) but many did not receive any information (45 %).


Findings suggest that AYA with cancer experience a significant impact on physical activity levels and QoL. Moreover, survivors experience considerable difficulty returning to premorbid levels of activity. Our study suggests that interventions promoting physical activity and healthy lifestyle behaviours would be well accepted within this population and may be essential to improve their long-term health and QoL during survivorship.


Adolescent and young adult Exercise Quality of life Survivorship 



We would like to thank Bobbie-Jane Rosenhart for the assistance with the questionnaire package and data entry along with the Victorian and Tasmanian Youth Cancer Consumer Advisory Board for the feedback and comments relating to the study.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Murnane
    • 1
    Email author
  • K. Gough
    • 2
  • K. Thompson
    • 1
  • L. Holland
    • 1
  • R. Conyers
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.ONTrac at Peter Mac Victorian Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Service Peter MacCallum Cancer CentreMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Cancer Experiences ResearchPeter MacCallum Cancer CentreMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.The University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  4. 4.The Royal Children’s HospitalParkvilleAustralia

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