Over the past years, an entirely new field has been established in the world of oncology: Exercise Oncology. More and more research shows that physical activity can have a positive effect on cancer prevention and treatment. Martijn Stuiver is one of the pioneers in this exciting new field: “An important aspect is personalized care: who needs what, and when? And what is the role of predictive models and technology to support detection and interventions?”
Together with some of his colleagues at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, he published an influential article in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2015, on the effects of physical activity on women with breast cancer who are receiving chemotherapy after surgery. Researchers showed that a supervised physical activity program could not only improve the physical fitness of these women, but also reduced chemotherapy side effects like fatigue. In 2019, Stuiver was part of an international research team that published new, research-based guidelines for systematic application of exercise interventions for patients with cancer.
As an associate group leader at the NKI, Martijn Stuiver will also concern himself with the question of how to implement new knowledge into clinical practice as soon as possible, in ways that can benefit the patients. Martijn: “We have a great research department here, the PSOE. And we have an excellent center for the delivery and development of supportive care: the Survivorship Center. But the road from research to implementation is not always clear. I want to strengthen the bridge between the PSOE and the Survivorship Center.”
Group leader Lonneke van de Poll is glad that Martijn Stuiver has joined forces with her group as an associate group leader. “Martijn is more than a physical therapist – he is also a clinical epidemiologist, which is a rare combination. On top of that, he conducts excellent research and is methodologically very strong. He publishes in renowned journals and wants to implement new findings into clinical practice for all patients, not only the ones receiving treatment at the NKI.”
One concrete example of his work is Onconet – a network of physical therapists throughout the Netherlands founded by him and his colleagues – which gives patients access to the same research-based physical activity programs. Plenty of new research is conducted within Onconet as well.
Martijn Stuiver is connected to the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA) as a professor by special appointment teaching “Functional recovery from cancer,” partially funded by the NKI. Stuiver: “Here we train the professionals of the future.”
- In 2020, the handbook Exercise Oncology was published, featuring a chapter on multidisciplinary approaches written by Martijn Stuiver.
- In 2018 an international team published new, research-based guidelines for systematic application of exercise interventions for patients with cancer (Dutch)
- The large-scale European (Horizon 2020) project Preferable researches exercise interventions in metastatic breast cancer. The NKI primarily investigates how knowledge on patients’ convictions and obstacles can help to put interventions into practice.
- In December 2020, the NWO provided funding for a project about minimally invasive techniques in oncology, in the ‘Personalized Medicine’ route of the Nationale Wetenschapsagenda. In this project, coordinated by the Erasmus MC, the NKI researches how smart, portable technology can be used for the early detection of toxicities in high-toxicity therapies like immunotherapy or chemoradiation.