Breast and prostate cancer patients who regularly exercise during and after cancer treatment report having a better quality of life and being less fatigued.

“Using exercise as an approach to cancer care has the potential to benefit patients both physically and psychologically, as well as mitigate treatment side effects,” says Eleanor M. Walker, who led the study.

“Plus, exercise is a great alternative to patients combating fatigue and nausea, who are considering using supplements...,” said Walker, Director of breast services in radiation oncology at Henry Ford Hospital.

To study how exercise impacts cancer patients, Walker and colleagues developed a unique program called ExCITE (Exercise and Cancer Integrative Therapies and Education). ExCITE works with patients who are receiving cancer treatment to create individualised exercise programmes.

Some patients come into one of Henry Ford’s fitness centres to workout, while others have plans that allow them to exercise at home during various stages of their care.

The study group thus far includes 30 female breast cancer patients and 20 prostate cancer patients, ranging in age from 35 to 80.

All were newly diagnosed when they began ExCITE. The study followed the patients during treatment and for one-year following completion of cancer treatment.

Before beginning the exercise programme, Henry Ford’s Preventative Cardiology Division measured the patients’ exercise capacity, skeletal muscle strength and endurance.

General blood work, metabolic screens, bone density and inflammatory biomarkers also were obtained at the start of the programme.

Cheryl Fallen of Gross Pointe Park, Michigan, was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer while she took part in the ExCITE programme, says a release of Henry Ford Hospital.

Through a mix of exercise, acupuncture and good nutrition, she didn’t experience some of the more common side-effects from treatment - nausea, fatigue and trouble with memory.

Study of the ExCITE programme is ongoing, with Walker and colleagues continuing to investigate the potential benefits of exercise for cancer patients.

Keywords: cancerexercisefitness