This study aimed to assess physical activity levels in childhood cancer survivors, and investigated factors influencing whether survivors met physical activity guidelines.
We recruited parents of childhood cancer survivors aged <16, and adult survivors of childhood cancer aged ≥16. Survivors were >5 years since diagnosis, treated at 11 hospitals in Australia and New Zealand. We recruited age-matched controls for comparison. We compared moderate-vigorous physical activity levels with American Cancer Society’s physical activity guidelines. We used Chi-square and t-tests to compare survivors with age-matched controls. We used logistic regression to identify factors influencing meeting physical activity guidelines.
We collected data from 914 participants, including parents of 192 child survivors (mean age=12·9±2·3 years), 378 adult survivors (mean age=26·2±7·6 years), parents of 111 age-matched child (mean age=12·3±2·7 years) and 233 adult controls (mean age=27·2±8·8 years). Parents reported child survivors to be more physically active than controls (248·4±217·6 vs. 184·8±213·6 min/week, p=0·036). There was no difference in physical activity levels between adult survivors and controls (125·4±151·8 vs. 160·5±200·7 min/week, p=0·070). Thirty-one percent of child survivors (vs. 22·7% of controls,p=0·011) and 30% of adult survivors (vs. 39·4% of controls, p=0·804) met physical activity guidelines. Survivors reduced their physical activity by 68 min/week/decade (p<0.001). Adult survivors who received radiotherapy (OR=0·585, 95%CI=0·343-0·995, p=0·048) or had not completed university (OR=1·808, 95%CI=1·071-3·053, p=0·027) were less likely to meet physical activity guidelines.
Under one-third of childhood cancer are meeting physical activity guidelines. Adult survivors of childhood cancer who received radiotherapy or with lower education appeared most at-risk for low physical activity. Physical activity is important for everyone, but more critical in childhood cancer survivors due to their increased risk of late-effects. Early monitoring and interventions targeting at-risk survivors who are not meeting physical activity guidelines are warranted to increase physical activity and subsequently minimise late-effects risks.