Introduction: Early detection and advances in treatment options have contributed to a 13% decline in cancer mortality rates since the year 2004, leading to the classification of cancer as a chronic disease. This creates a challenge for health care providers to address the short and long-term effects of current cancer therapy and minimize toxicities. Therefore, the purpose of this investigation was to determine if exercise training during cancer treatment helped to minimize symptom severity during chemotherapy treatment.
Methods: This controlled trial evaluated the effects of individualized exercise therapy in 191 patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Study participants underwent standard prescribed chemotherapy schedules, and were excluded from the study if they had pre-existing cardiac, liver, and bone marrow conditions prior to treatment. Each participant completed the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS-R) questionnaire, and a subjective symptom checklist to gauge the severity of treatment-related side effects related to chemotherapy at the start and conclusion of their treatment regimen. During their treatment, patients participated in a 12-week individualized, supervised exercise program through Maple Tree Cancer Alliance.
Results: Twelve weeks of supervised, individualized exercise had a positive impact on fitness parameters as well as symptom severity. Muscular strength, muscular endurance, and cardiovascular endurance significantly improved from baseline. In addition, overall quality of life, depression, sense of purpose, fear for the future, control over life, fatigue, pain, nausea, and shortness of breath all improved following the exercise intervention.
Conclusion: Twelve weeks of individualized exercise improved fitness parameters and mitigated symptoms during chemotherapy treatment.
Karen Wonders, Rob Wise, Danielle Ondreka and Trent Seitz
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