Quick Study

Quick Study: Chemotherapy fatigue, prostate cancer surgery

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Exercise may reduce chemo-related fatigue.

THE QUESTION Fatigue is a frequent complaint of people getting chemotherapy for cancer. Might exercise change that?

THIS STUDY involved 269 adults (average age, 47) who, as a group, had 21 cancer diagnoses; all were undergoing chemotherapy. All got standard medical care for cancer; some were assigned to supplement that care with nine hours of supervised exercise. The exercise included high-intensity cardiovascular and resistance training and low-intensity relaxation and body awareness techniques; massages also were given. After six weeks, people in the exercise group reported less fatigue and greater vitality and emotional well-being than the non-exercisers. They also were found to have improved aerobic capacity, muscular strength and overall physical functioning.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? People being treated for cancer with chemotherapy, which uses drugs to kill cancer cells. But the drugs' effect on healthy cells produces a range of side effects, including fatigue. The disease itself also can make people feel unusually tired.

CAVEATS No one with cancer should begin an exercise regimen without first consulting with a doctor. If approval is given, supervision might be suggested; for safety, study participants were closely monitored during all exercise. Exercise regimens that differ from that used in the study might yield different results. Some data came from the participants' responses on questionnaires. Though fatigue was lessened, it remained greater, on average, than in the general population.

FIND THIS STUDY Oct. 13 online issue of BMJ.

LEARN MORE ABOUT chemotherapy at http://www.cancer.gov and http://www.cancer.org.

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