Can exercise prevent cancer spread?

When prostate cancer spreads, more often than not, it goes to the bones. This is not only extremely painful, but can be very hard to treat. Dr Wang is interested in whether exercise can make it less likely for cancer to spread to the skeleton.

His team will test this by injecting prostate cancer cells loaded with a fluorescent dye into mice, and then treating them in such a way as to mimic load bearing exercise on one leg. They are doing this because bone is known to be a dynamic structure; exercise promotes bone formation, while cancer metastasis to the bone is associated with bone cell removal. So Dr Wang wonders whether using exercise to promote new bone cell growth can in turn prevent cancer cells spreading into, and setting up camp in, the bone.

Dr Wang will examine cancer growth in the bones at a number of different time points after injection and exercise to try to establish the best pattern and timing for exercise to prevent tumour spread. The researchers will be able to compare how well the tumours grow in the non-load bearing leg compared to the load bearing one.

If they see an effect in this exercise model, they will move on to testing more translatable models of exercise, such as time on a treadmill or high frequency vibration platform to try to establish a clear link between exercise and prevention of prostate cancer spread that could go on to be tested in men with the disease.

Grant information

Reference - RIA16-ST2-005
Researcher - 
Dr Ning Wang
Institution – University of Sheffield
Award - £199,994