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 (C110)
Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum
und Nationales Centrum für Tumorerkrankungen (NCT)
Im Neuenheimer Feld 581
69120 Heidelberg
Tel: +49 6221 42-2351

Selected Publications

  • Schmidt ME, Hermann S, Arndt V, Steindorf K (2020): Prevalence and severity of long-term physical, emotional, and cognitive fatigue across 15 different cancer entities. Cancer Medicine, 9, 8053– 8061, doi: 10.1002/cam4.3413.
  • Depenbusch J, Haussmann A, … , Steindorf K (2020): The association between physicians’ exercise counseling and physical activity in patients with cancer: Which roles do patients’ satisfaction and previous physical activity levels play? Psycho-Oncology, 29, 1856-1863, doi: 10.1002/pon.5506.
  • Steindorf K, Clauss D, Tjaden C et al. (2019): Quality of life, fatigue, and sleep problems in pancreatic cancer patients: a Randomized Controlled Trial on the effects of exercise. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, 116, 471-8.
  • Steindorf K, Schmidt ME, Klassen O et al. (2014): Randomized Controlled Trial of Resistance Training in Breast Cancer Patients Receiving Adjuvant Radiotherapy: Results on Cancer-related Fatigue and Quality of Life. Annals of Oncology, 25, 2237-43.
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