Help Us Launch the NExT Big Thing in Cancer Care


Join us to help launch a nutrition and exercise pilot program for people living with cancer.

The Cancer Exercise Training Centre started in 1999, as a partnership between BC Cancer and University of British Columbia (UBC), as a site for the seminal research on the safety and benefit of exercise during breast cancer treatment.

Evidence has shown that exercise and healthy eating can lower the relative risk of cancer mortality and recurrence, improve physical functioning, quality of life, and cancer-related fatigue, as well as help patients maintain a healthy weight and ease adverse treatment side effects,

With this in mind we are now ready to launch the next phase of the NExT, Nutrition & Exercise During Cancer Treatment Program. Once a research study of the same name, we have now developed a pilot project at two locations (one near BC Cancer – Vancouver & one near UBC). NExT will enable us to provide evidence-informed, supervised, structured lifestyle programming to breast cancer, and other cancer patients through:

  • Creation of a sustainable program model

  • Training the next generation of exercise specialists and students

  • Continued leadership in research in the field of exercise, nutrition, and oncology

  • Establishing or connecting with programming offered in the community

The Research

Key findings at the UBC Cancer Exercise Facility and Training Centre to date

First to report that:

  • High-intensity, upper body activity (i.e., dragon boating) did not increase risk of developing lymphedema or worsening of lymphedema after surgery for breast cancer (McKenzie DC. CMAJ 1998;159(4):376-8; 2) McKenzie DC, Kalda AL. J Clin Oncol 2003;21(3):463-466)

  • Weight lifting during chemotherapy may help to improve chemotherapy completion rate (Courneya KS et al., J Clin Oncol 2007;25(28):4396-404)

  • The well-researched Diabetes Prevention Program for weight management can be successfully adapted for use with breast cancer survivors after completion of treatment(Campbell et al. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2012 Apr;112(4):559-67

  • Improved survival in women randomized to undertake exercise during chemotherapy (Courneya KS, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2014;46(9):1744-51.)

  • Exercise may reduce “chemo-brain” in women following treatment for breast cancer (Campbell KL, et al. Pyscho-Oncology 2018 Jan;27(1):53-60. 0.

  • The potential of exercise to be “cardioprotective” in women receiving anthracycline chemotherapy for breast cancer treatment (Kirkham AA et al. Int J Cardiol. 2017 Oct 15;245:263-270 and Kirkham AA et al. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2018 Feb;167(3):719-729

Summary of current utilization, Research outputs & Capacity Building

(October 2015 – December 2017)

During this time, the NeXT Exercise Program has served over 170 cancer survivors as part of research studies.

Research Outputs

Has generated:

  1. 7 Manuscripts accepted at peer reviewed journals
  2. 3 Manuscripts submitted & under review
  3. 3 Manuscripts in preparation
  4. 16 Published abstracts & conference presentations (national and international)
  5. 4 Operating grants received
Capacity Building

Has provided training to:

  1. 10 undergraduate volunteers
  2. 5 Work-Learn undergraduate or graduate students
  3. 3 MSc trainees and 2 PhD trainees research assistants
  4. 2 Certified Exercise Trainers
Trained the next generation of high caliber researchers in the field, including:
  1. Dr. Amy Kirkham, PhD (current position, CIHR-funded postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta)

  2. Dr. Sarah Neil-Sztramko, MSc (current position, CIHR-funded postdoctoral fellow at McMaster University)

  3. Dr. Lianne Dolan, PhD (prior position, Postdoctoral fellow at ELLICSR: Health, Wellness and Cancer Survivorship Centre & University of Toronto)

  4. Kelcey Bland, MSc (current position, Scholarship to undertake PhD at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne Australia with Dr. Prue Cormie)

Engagement with clinical & research community

Has involved collaborations with:

  1. (Ongoing) BC Cancer oncologists, including Drs. Christine Simmons, Caroline Lorisch, Alina Gerrie, Stephen Chia, Tamara Shenkier, Howard Lim, Sharlene Gill
  2. (Ongoing) The Provincial Supportive Care Program in Patient Experience and Interprofessional Practice at BC Cancer, including Drs. Ryna Levy-Milne (RD, PhD) and Alan Bates (MD), as well as Cheri Van Patten (RD, MSc).
  3. (New) The Prostate Cancer Supportive Care program, including urologists Drs. Larry Goldenberg and Peter Black, and Phil Pollock (‎Provincial Program Manager of the program), as well as the TRUENTH Lifestyle Management Program funded by Prostate Cancer Canada and Movember.

“Exercise is the only intervention that we have right now that will help with cancer-related fatigue. There are no other therapies for it.”

Cheri-Van Patten, dietitian and program co-ordinator

the team

  • Dr. Karen Gelmon, MD (BC Cancer, UBC Faculty of Medicine)

  • Dr. Don McKenzie, MD, PhD (UBC Faculty of Medicine & School of Kinesiology)

  • Dr. Kristin Campbell, BScPT, PhD (UBC Faculty of Medicine, Dept. of Physical Therapy & BC Cancer - Cancer Control Research)

  • Cheri Van Patten, RD, MSc (BC Cancer, UBC Faculty of Medicine)

next steps

NeXT Follow-up: Nutrition and Exercise during adjuvant treatment Study Follow-up

Through ongoing collaborations with UBC, we are developing an approach to deliver exercise as standard of care during adjuvant chemotherapy and radiation treatment for women being treated for breast cancer. Following the success of the BC Cancer Foundation-funded NeXT study which demonstrated the feasibility and efficacy of supervised exercise training provided at BC Cancer -Vancouver for women receiving adjuvant chemotherapy, the follow-up project aims to partner with the School of Kinesiology and Department of Physical Therapy at UBC to create an experiential learning platform to delivery of the program.

Under direct supervision of a qualified exercise professional, students would deliver the program, and receive a set curriculum of hands-on and classroom learning. This provides a sustainable approach to delivery of the program and continues the goal of the Cancer Exercise Training Centre to build capacity of exercise and physiotherapy professionals in B.C. in the area of oncology. Discussions with UBC are ongoing and the goal is to open the program to the first group of students in September 2019.

Expansion to other cancer sites

The strong reputation of the Cancer Exercise Training Centre and the investigator team, along with the success of the NeXT Study, has resulted in many requests for research collaboration and delivery services for other cancer sites seen at BC Cancer. In addition to prostate cancer, to date we have been approached by oncologists treating leukemia and lymphoma, lung cancer, brain cancer and colorectal cancer, as well as allied health care providers from BC Cancer Patient Experience and Interprofessional Practice who work in the areas of psychosocial oncology and return to work.

With the on-going development of novel delivery pathways being developed as part of SUCCESS BC, funded by the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, we anticipate that new grant applications and other funding opportunities will be available to support expansion of services provided by the Centre to other cancer sites.


Help us get to the NeXT level

To get to the next level we require funding for employed staff costs and operational
costs, specifically:

Integration of exercise physiologist or physiotherapist at BC Cancer

This individual would:

  • Serve as a resource for clinicians and staff regarding exercise programming and rehabilitation
  • Provide screening for safety and triage of patients to relevant exercise programming
  • Provide exercise services for high risk group at BC Cancer Vancouver. This will be trialed for years and evaluated in terms of utilization, patient outcomes and health economics.

Provide Exercise Programming at BC Cancer

This will allow for delivery of 12-week exercise programming for cancer patients on cancer treatment at no cost. Patient would then be eligible to graduate to drop-in programming for a small fee to allow individuals to continue to exercise in a safe setting.


ACTIVATE TRIAL: Aerobic Exercise and Cognitive Functioning in Women with Breast Cancer

We have received funding for a randomized controlled trial of exercise in 84 women receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer. The project is funded by the Canadian Cancer Society Quality of Life Operating Grant (02/2017- 01/2021; $294,000) and Avon Foundation for Women ($47,500). The project has been reviewed by the BC Cancer’s Research Ethics Board (October 2017) and we are currently completely provisos. Started December 2017

SUCCESS BC: Enhancing Supportive Care for Cancer Survivors with Exercise Support in BC.

We have received funding through a REACH grant from MSFHR (09/2017 – 08/2018, $10,000). MSFHR Reach Awards support health researchers and research users to disseminate the outputs of health research; to reach out to a specific audience so as to ensure effective uptake of research evidence. This project in a partnership with research user Dr. Ryna Levy-Milne at BCCA to develop a model of supportive care around exercise for breast cancer survivors in BC. The proposed model aims to triage patient by complexity of needs and match patient needs with services in the community. The project also involved Healthlink BC, the province wide tele-health platform. This project started September 1, 2017 and the training centre will serves as a model venue to deliver programming to the women with highest needs profile.

"Cancer patients who exercise regularly experience fewer and less severe side-effects from treatments, they have a lower relative risk of cancer recurrence and a lower relative risk of dying from their cancer. "

Dr. Prue Cormie, Researcher & expert in exercise oncology from Australia


To find out more contact Dr. Kristin Campbell at

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vital to our future success,
combating the effects of cancer