Doctors 'should offer lifestyle advice to cancer patients'

8 February 2013

The friends and family of cancer patients feel GPs should offer them advice on leading an active and healthy lifestyle.

More than 80 per cent of 1,200 people who knew someone close who had cancer said they thought doctors had a "duty" to provide advice on topics such as eating habits, weight loss and exercise.

Despite a concern that such information could be seen as insensitive or implying ‘blame', the study, by Cancer Research UK scientists at University College London (UCL), found less than 20 per cent felt such advice would be perceived as insensitive.

Some 90 per cent 90 per cent of the friends and relatives of cancer patients saw lifestyle advice as beneficial and a poll of more than 200 cancer survivors who had been given lifestyle found patients were similarly positive (80 per cent believing it would be beneficial).

Research has shown that cancer patients can reduce their risk of developing conditions such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and second primary cancers by leading an active and healthy lifestyle.

"The concern has always been that talking to someone diagnosed with cancer about changing their eating or exercise habits could be seen as upsetting and inappropriate by cancer patients or their friends and family members," said UCL's Kate Williams.

"But we've found that not only are they receptive to the information but most believe it is their doctor’s duty to advise them on ways to lead a healthier lifestyle."

The study was published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

Health News is provided by Adfero in collaboration with Spire Healthcare. Please note that all copy above is ©Adfero Ltd. and does not reflect views or opinions of Spire Healthcare unless explicitly stated. Additional comments on the page from individual Spire consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other consultants or Spire Healthcare.

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