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Physical Activity, Prevention and Cancer

Division of Physical Activity, Prevention and Cancer

Prof. Dr. Karen Steindorf

Picture: Philip Benjamin/NCT

The Division of Physical Activity, Prevention and Cancer investigates the protective effects of physical activity (PA) and exercise on cancer risk (primary prevention) as well as on oncologic treatment and cancer prognosis (tertiary prevention). For years, the Division has continuously contributed with high-quality and innovative 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.

As further topic, the interdisciplinary Division studies the prevention and treatment of quality-of-life-related outcomes such as fatigue, sleep problems, cognitive problems, pain and depressive symptoms on a broader, also beyond-exercise perspective. 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. 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 Division’s patient-oriented research 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, Chong M, Klassen O, Wiskemann J, Steindorf K (2023): Longitudinal associations of bioelectrical phase angle and fatigue in breast cancer patients. Int J Cancer, 153(6):1192-1200. doi: 10.1002/ijc.34630.
  • Depenbusch J*, Haussmann A*, Wiskemann J, Tsiouris A, Schmidt L, Sieverding M, Ungar N, Steindorf K (2022): The Relationship between Exercise Self-Efficacy, Intention, and Structural Barriers for Physical Activity after a Cancer Diagnosis, Cancers, Epub, 14:2480, doi: 10.3390/cancers14102480. Open access.
  • 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. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2019.0471
  • 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. doi : 10.1093/annonc/mdu374
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