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Exercise Boosts Health of Cancer Patients

Physical activity during and after treatment resulted in less fatigue, greater well-being, researchers say

THURSDAY, May 27 (HealthDay News) - Exercise during and after treatment improves quality of life and eases fatigue for patients battling either breast or prostate cancer, a new study finds.

"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," study lead author Dr. Eleanor M. Walker, division director of breast services in the department of radiation oncology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, said in a statement.

Walker and colleagues created a program called ExCITE that encouraged 30 female breast cancer patients and 20 prostate cancer patients to collaborate on individualized exercise programs. The researchers followed the patients, aged 35 to 80, during their treatment and for a year afterward.

Before patients joined the exercise program, the hospital's cardiology division evaluated their skeletal muscle strength, endurance and capacity for exercise. Staff also examined patients' weight, overall health, and type of cancer treatment, as well as doing blood work, bone density screens, metabolic screenings and workups for inflammatory "markers."

"Exercise is a great alternative to patients combating fatigue and nausea who are considering using supplements which may interfere with medications and chemotherapy they're taking during cancer treatment," Walker concluded.

She is slated to present the study June 7 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has details on exercise and physical fitness.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Henry Ford Health System, May 21, 2010, press release.

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