Physical Activity, Prevention and Cancer

Division of Physical Activity, Prevention and Cancer

Prof. Dr. Karen Steindorf

Picture: Medienzentrum der Universität Heidelberg

The Division of Physical Activity, Prevention and Cancer investigates the protective effects of physical activity (PA) and exercise on cancer risk (primary prevention), molecular mechanisms, as well as on oncologic treatment and cancer prognosis (tertiary prevention). For years, the Division has continuously contributed with high-quality studies to increase the evidence that PA/exercise improves the quality of life of cancer patients, reduces therapy- and cancer-related side effects, and, probably, also the risk of recurrence and cancer mortality. Some parts of the research program are performed in close cooperation with the NCT Division of Medical Oncology (Prof. Dr. Dirk Jäger).

The population of cancer survivors is large and even further growing so that quality of life and reintegration into social and professional life are of high importance. Thus, the Division studies the prevention and treatment of quality-of-life-related outcomes such as fatigue, sleep problems, cognitive problems, pain and depressive symptoms also on a broader, beyond-exercise perspective. The understanding and management of those outcomes are still largely in their infancy so that more differentiated research on patterns, pathophysiology, and intervention effects is promising and important.

The overall goal of the interdisciplinary Division is to increase the scientific evidence and general knowledge about the relevance of PA, exercise, and further effective supportive therapies, and, ultimately, to contribute to a better, evidence-based and individually-tailored prevention and standard care of these burdensome symptoms for cancer patients.


Prof. Dr. Karen Steindorf
Physical Activity, Prevention and Cancer (G210)
Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum
und Nationales Centrum für Tumorerkrankungen (NCT)
Im Neuenheimer Feld 460
69120 Heidelberg
Tel: +49 6221 42-2351

Selected Publications

  • Schmidt ME, Wiskemann J, Schneeweiss A, Potthoff K, Ulrich CM, Steindorf K (2017). Courses and determinants of physical, affective, and cognitive fatigue during breast cancer therapy and 12 months follow-up. Int J Cancer [Epub ahead of print].
  • Zimmer P, Schenk A, Kieven M, Holthaus M, Lehmann J, Lövenich L, Bloch W (2017). Exercise induced alterations in NK-cell cytotoxicity - methodological issues and future perspectives. Exerc Immunol Rev, 23, 66-81.
  • Steindorf K, Wiskemann J, Ulrich CM, Schmidt ME (2017). Effects of exercise on sleep problems in breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy: a randomized clinical trial. Breast Cancer Res Treat, 162, 489-499.
  • van Vulpen JK, Schmidt ME, Velthuis MJ, Wiskemann J, Schneeweiss A, Vermeulen RCH, Habermann N, Ulrich CM, Peeters PHM, van der Wall E, May AM, Steindorf K (2017). Effects of physical exercise on markers of inflammation in breast cancer patients during adjuvant chemotherapy. Breast Cancer Res Treat [Epub ahead of print].
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