Exercise Does Not Equally Help Different Cancer Patients

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Exercise Does Not Equally Help Different Cancer Patients
Exercise Does Not Equally Help Different Cancer Patients

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Video: Exercise Through Cancer Care | Karen Wonders | TEDxDayton 2023, February
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Exercise Does Not Equally Help Different Cancer Patients

The use of exercise in the treatment of cancer patients has different benefits depending on the patient's initial physical condition. Some of the findings of the new study seemed unexpected to the scientists themselves.

Exercise Does Not Equally Help Different Cancer Patients
Exercise Does Not Equally Help Different Cancer Patients

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The use of exercise to treat cancer patients has different benefits depending on the patient's initial physical condition, according to an article in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Exercise during primary cancer treatment, especially chemotherapy, aims to prevent decreased activity and reduce the side effects of treatment, and after treatment to improve functioning. Research has shown that exercise has a positive effect on fatigue, fitness, quality of life, and physical function during and after cancer treatment. However, these effects are often insignificant.

Researchers studied how exercise affects fatigue, aerobic performance, muscle strength, quality of life, and fitness in cancer patients, given the baseline data for these health characteristics. Data were pooled from 34 exercise experiments (4519 patients in total) conducted as part of the Predicting Optimal Cancer Rehabilitation and Symptom Therapy Study.

During treatment, it was found that the effect on aerobic performance (the body's ability to perform work by providing energy expenditure from oxygen absorbed during work) was greater in patients with better baseline aerobic performance. And after treatment, the effect on upper and lower body muscle strength and quality of life was higher in patients with worse baseline values.

While the researchers believe exercise should be done for most cancer patients, targeting specific subgroups may be particularly beneficial. During treatment, patients experienced benefits in muscle strength and quality of life regardless of baseline values. However, only patients with low baseline values ​​received benefits after treatment.

In terms of aerobic performance, patients with low baseline values ​​did not benefit from treatment. Exercise during treatment was effective in maintaining quality of life and muscle strength in the upper and lower body, regardless of baseline. After treatment, exercise did not appear to improve outcomes in patients with relatively high baseline values ​​in these categories.

Surprisingly and controversially, exercise in cancer treatment had a better effect on aerobic performance in patients with higher baseline aerobic performance. Perhaps exercise during cancer intensive care (although it is adapted to the patient's capacity) is too difficult for patients with low aerobic performance.

Thus, the researchers believe that targeted interventions are most beneficial for patients with the worst symptoms and quality of life. “Our study emphasizes that in order to optimize outcomes, it is important to carefully consider when and for what purpose the interventions to be offered to the patient with cancer should be proposed,” concluded Laurien Buffart, one of the participants.

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