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Cardio fitness levels of breast cancer patients may affect survival
Date:5/23/2012

d cardio-pulmonary exercise test on a stationary bike, which escalated until the patients reached maximum exertion. At that point, the researchers took a measurement called VO2-peak, the gold standard assessment of cardiopulmonary function that athletes use to measure fitness levels and design training programs.

The researchers found that women with breast cancer, regardless of treatment status, had significantly worse cardio-pulmonary function than healthy women of the same age who were sedentary. Even among patients who had completed cancer therapy years previously, cardiopulmonary function levels were markedly impaired, suggesting that fitness levels may not recover after therapy. More striking, approximately a third of women in the study had a cardiopulmonary function score below the threshold that suggests people can function independently do household tasks, walk up and down stairs, or walk a half mile.

Among the patients with advanced breast cancer, median survival was significantly longer for women with higher cardiopulmonary function. Median survival was 36 months in high-fitness patients vs. 16 months in the low-fitness patients.

"Fitness level may be an important biomarker of survival among cancer patients," Jones said. "But the beautiful thing about fitness is that we can improve it with exercise training. Although we currently do not know if improving fitness in cancer patients is associated with longer survival, our data provides initial evidence to pursue this question."

Jones said the findings of this study indicate that exercise may be a good intervention for cancer patients both during and after therapy. His team at Duke has several studies underway examining the effects of exercise training on women with breast cancer, plus patients with other cancers.


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Contact: Sarah Avery
sarah.avery@duke.edu
919-660-1306
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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