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Exercise Testing for Cancer Fails to Follow Guidelines

Study urges national, international standards to ensure safety, reliable results

TUESDAY, July 29 (HealthDay News) -- Exercise testing has become a common part of cancer care and research, but most tests aren't administered according to American Thoracic Society guidelines, say Duke University Medical Center researchers.

In cancer care, exercise tests are used to determine the pre-surgical fitness of lung cancer patients. In cancer research, exercise tests are most often used to evaluate patients' cardiorespiratory fitness after a cancer diagnosis.

"We reviewed studies that performed exercise testing among adults with cancer and found most studies did not follow the guidelines recommended for clinical settings," lead author Lee W. Jones, an assistant professor of surgery, said in a Duke news release.

"We also found that studies typically do not report key physiological outcomes that provide immediate information on the fitness level in a particular cancer population or whether the test was valid," Jones said.

The findings were expected to be published in the August issue of the journal The Lancet Oncology.

A number of studies have concluded that exercise can benefit cancer patients before and after treatment.

"Several recent studies reported a strong association between increased levels of exercise and significant reductions in cancer recurrence and cancer mortality among patients with colon and breast cancer," Jones said. "As the level of evidence continues to grow, the need for exercise testing will grow in parallel."

Such tests need to be standardized to ensure safety and reliable results.

"We need to develop a plan for nationally and internationally mandated recommendations specific to the clinical and research applications of exercise testing for oncology patients," Jones said.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about cancer patients and exercise.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, July 28, 2008

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