Effects of Exercise on the Tumour Microenvironment

Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1225)


Epidemiological evidence suggests that exercise improves survival in cancer patients. However, much is still unknown regarding the mechanisms of this positive survival effect and there are indications that exercise may not be universally beneficial for cancer patients. The key to understanding in which situations exercise is beneficial may lie in understanding its influence on the tumour microenvironment (TME)—and conversely, the influence of the tumour on physical functioning. The TME consists of a vast multitude of different cell types, mechanical and chemical stressors and humoral factors. The interplay of these different components greatly influences tumour cell characteristics and, subsequently, tumour growth rate and aggression. Exercise exerts whole-body physiological effects and can directly and indirectly affect the TME. In this chapter, we first discuss the possible role of exercise capacity (‘fitness’) and exercise adaptability on tumour responsiveness to exercise. We summarise how exercise affects aspects of the TME such as tumour perfusion, vascularity, hypoxia (reduced oxygenation) and immunity. Additionally, we discuss the role of myokines and other circulating factors in eliciting these changes in the TME. Finally, we highlight unanswered questions and key areas for future research in exercise oncology and the TME.


Exercise Physical activity Cancer Tumour microenvironment Hypoxia Anti-tumour immunity Tumour perfusion Myokines Exercise capacity Vascularity Exercise adaptation Immunology Preclinical Metastasis Physiology 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mackenzie Cancer Research Group, Department of Pathology and Biomedical ScienceUniversity of Otago ChristchurchChristchurchNew Zealand

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