A snapshot of some of the research being done into the benefits of exercise for oncology patients.
Physical fitness in survivors of childhood Hodgkin lymphoma: A report from the St. Jude Lifetime Cohort
Matthew D. Wogksch, Carrie R. Howell, Carmen L. Wilson, Robyn E. Partin, Matthew J. Ehrhardt, Kevin R. Krull, Tara M. Brinkman, Daniel A. Mulrooney, Melissa M. Hudson, Leslie L. Robison, Kirsten K. Ness
Five-year survival rates for those diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) before the age of 20 years exceed 96% in the United States. Many survivors of childhood/adolescent HL experience cancer-or treatment-related adverse health outcomes. These adverse outcomes are associated with lower health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among childhood cancer survivors.
Improving levels of physical fitness may help prevent or remediate poor health conditions experienced by survivors of childhood HL as well as improve HRQoL. In general population, evidence supports the preventative role of physical fitness for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, and stroke.
Exercise has also been shown to benefit those with chronic disease, such as heart failure and fibromyalgia, as well as having a positive effect on HRQoL. Recent findings have shown a reduction in all-cause mortality in survivors of childhood cancer who exercise 15-18 MET-hours per week.
Findings also indicate a decreased risk of cardiovascular events among survivors who exercise regularly. Positive associations have been reported between HRQoL and fitness levels in childhood cancer survivors. Thus, improving levels of fitness and exercise in childhood survivors is important.
“Improving levels of physical fitness may help prevent or remediate poor health conditions experienced by survivors of childhood HL as well as improve HRQoL.
A home-based physical activity intervention using activity trackers in survivors of childhood cancer: A pilot study.
Alyssa Le, Hannah-Rose Mitchell, Daniel J. Zheng, Jaime Rotatori, John T. Fahey, Kirsten K. Ness, Nina S. Kaden-Lottick
More than 80% of children currently treated for cancer will be cured.
Unfortunately, over 70% of long-term survivors will develop at least one chronic health condition within 30 years from diagnosis as a complication from their cancer treatment.
Well-documented late effects include cardiomyopathy, obesity, hyperlipidemia, osteoporosis, insulin resistance, persistent fatigue, and subsequent cancers.
Participation in regular moderately intensive physical activity may help minimize many of these complications
Physical activity can also have a positive impact on quality of life.
Unfortunately, several studies have shown that childhood cancer survivors engage in physical activity at similar or even lower rates than their peers in the general population, who themselves are alarmingly sedentary.
“Over 70% of childhood cancer survivors develop late complications from therapy, many of which can be mitigated by physical activity”
Clinical exercise interventions in pediatric oncology: a systematic review.
Freerk T. Baumann, Wilhelm Bloch and Julia Beulertz
As a result of improved treatment regimes in pediatric oncology, the survival rates of children with cancer have risen to ~80% for 5-y survival. Therefore, the population of childhood cancer survivors is constantly growing. Despite these positive developments, childhood cancer is associated with a wide spectrum of various disease- and treatment-related side effects that may develop into chronic diseases and therefore result in long-term consequences. A negative impact on social, psychological, and physiological levels can be observed. Inactivity, impaired cardiopulmonary and musculoskeletal function, as well as reduced motor performance levels and cognitive abilities have been detected. Current studies also examined a negative impact on psychological well-being, satisfaction, and social functioning. Taken together, an impaired quality of life can thus be determined.
During the past few years, several studies have generated first hints describing holistic, positive effects of clinical exercise interventions in pediatric oncology. First results present an association between increased physical activity levels in childhood cancer patients and an improvement in quality of life. In particular, physical functioning is increased, anxiety is reduced, and social integration is encouraged. Considering the fact that physical activity plays a vital role in the physiological and psychosocial development of children, therapeutic exercise in pediatric oncology is particularly important. However, there is still a lack of comprehensive and evidence-based data in the eld of exercise interventions in pediatric oncology. Therefore, evidence-based exercise recommendations for childhood cancer patients are still missing.
"First results present an association between increased physical activity levels in childhood cancer patients and an improvement in quality of life."
The feasibility of physical activity interventions during the intense treatment phase for children and adolescents with cancer: a systematic review.
Sarah L. Grimshaw, Nicholas F. Taylor, and Nora Shields
Increases in childhood cancer survival rates have made the adverse long-term effects of cancer and its treatment a health concern. It is estimated that childhood cancer survivors are 3.3 times more likely than their siblings to have a chronic health condition. Survivors experience reduced fitness, fatigue, musculoskeletal morbidity, neurocognitive impairment and are at greater risk of a sedentary lifestyle and obesity. These adverse outcomes can negatively impact survivors’ physical performance, social and executive functioning and emotional health.
Participation in physical activity is essential for the development of all children. It improves short- and long-term physical outcomes in other paediatric chronic disease populations and adult cancer populations. Therefore, it may be possible to prevent or attenuate long-term adverse effects of childhood cancer through increased engagement in physical activity during treatment.
"... it may be possible to prevent or attenuate long-term adverse effects of childhood cancer through increased engagement in physical activity during treatment"
A practical guide to keeping active during cancer treatment: Childhood cancer physical activity
Paediatric Integrated Cancer Service
Why is keeping active important
Physical activity has many bene ts for children and adolescents with cancer.
Help with treatment side effects
Cancer treatment can have many side effects that vary for each child or adolescent. Side effects often make keeping active a challenge and can lead to long periods of time spent in bed. Certain chemotherapy drugs can also damage nerves and muscles. Evidence shows that children and adolescents with a cancer diagnosis are less active than other children and adolescents of the same age.
Long periods of bed rest can result in muscle weakness and joint stiffness, which over time may affect the ability to walk and do everyday tasks independently. Keeping active can help to minimise and even prevent some of the side effects of cancer treatment. It can also have a positive effect on mood and improve treatment-related symptoms such as fatigue.