Washington: According to a study, every cancer patient should keep regular exercise as part of their routine.
The researchers stated it can significantly improve symptom management, quality of life and fitness during and after treatment. Even among patients at highest risk of poor quality of life, exercise can make a difference.
The findings, published in Annals of Oncology, will be presented at ESMO 2018 Congress in Munich.
"We have found that patients get the greatest benefit if they exercise two or three times a week for at least an hour during the six months of their chemotherapy or radiotherapy and then for a further six months so that physical activity becomes a part of their life," said Dr. Thierry Bouillet, of American Hospital of Paris and author of one of the new studies.
"Patients are often fatigued and have started to lose muscle before they are diagnosed with cancer, so it is essential to start exercise as soon as possible after the first consultation. We should see it as 'emergency treatment' for their initial symptoms and later to help with the side effects of treatment," said Bouillet.
In a second study to be presented at ESMO 2018, researchers not only reported the value of exercise for patients with cancer, but also demonstrated that it is possible to identify patients at greatest risk of poor quality of life during treatment so they can receive extra help.
"Around 60 per cent of patients were physically active before and after chemotherapy and, although their quality of life was adversely affected by chemotherapy, they scored consistently better on a variety of physical, emotional and symptom scales than those who were inactive," explained Dr. Antonio Di Meglio, study author and Medical Oncologist, Institut Gustave Roussy, France.
The study showed that patients who had a mastectomy or additional illnesses, smoked or had a low income were particularly at risk of poor quality of life following chemotherapy for breast cancer, but they too benefited from exercise.
"Using a novel approach, we showed that it is possible to identify breast cancer patients whose quality of life will be worst affected by chemotherapy so we can now target those patients for dedicated interventions including those aimed at increasing physical activity to World Health Organisation (WHO)-recommended levels," added Di Meglio.