Background: Impaired physical performance is highly prevalent in older cancer patients and is associated with cancer-related outcomes such as mortality and chemotherapy-related toxicity. Physical performance might already decline prior to the cancer diagnosis due to undiagnosed disease. This study aimed to assess whether the physical performance of community-dwelling individuals prior to cancer diagnosis is worse compared to matched controls who are not diagnosed with cancer. Methods: The study sample was selected from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam, a longitudinal study on a nationally representative sample of the Dutch older population. Physical performance of initially cancer-free individuals aged 55-84 years who were diagnosed with cancer during 10 or 20 years of follow-up was compared to the physical performance of controls who were not diagnosed with cancer. For controls, the physical performance measurements of the cycle with a median age closest to the cancer group were used. The time interval between physical performance measurements and the report of cancer was 2 to 4 years. Groups were compared using logistic and linear regression analysis. Results: The study sample included 1735 individuals with a median age of 68.7 [interquartile range 63.3-76.4] years. During follow-up, 414 (23.9%) individuals were diagnosed with cancer. Handgrip strength, gait speed, chair stand ability, chair stand test time and ability to put on and take off a cardigan did not differ between groups. Individuals prior to cancer diagnosis were more likely to complete the tandem balance test. Conclusions: Physical performance of individuals 2 to 4 years prior to report of cancer diagnosis is not lower compared to controls. This suggests that physical performance may not be influenced by cancer before diagnosis.