Integrative Cancer Therapies
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Cancer Council Western Australia Research Fellowship (Daniel A. Galvão)
Neoadjuvant chemoradiation treatment (CRT) in rectal cancer patients is associated with a reduction in physical capacity, lean mass and increased fatigue. As a countermeasure to these treatment-related adverse effects, we examined the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of a 10-week exercise program during CRT.
Ten rectal cancer patients (7 men, aged 27-70 years, body mass index = 26.4 ± 3.8 kg/m2) receiving CRT undertook supervised resistance and aerobic exercise twice weekly. Assessments were undertaken pre- and post-intervention for upper and lower body muscle strength by 1-RM, muscle endurance, physical performance tests, body composition by dual X-ray absorptiometry, quality of life, and fatigue.
There was a significant loss in appendicular skeletal muscle (−1.1 kg, P =.012), and fat mass (−0.8 kg, P =.029) following CRT. Despite the loss in skeletal muscle, leg press (P =.030) and leg extension (P =.046) strength improved by 27.2% and 22.7%, respectively, and leg press endurance by 76.7% (P =.007). Changes in strength were accompanied by improved performance (P< .05) in 6-m fast walking speed (6.9%) and dynamic balance as determined by the 6-m backwards walk (15.5%). There was minimal change in quality of life and fatigue, and no adverse events related to training.
Exercise during neoadjuvant CRT appears to be feasible and well tolerated in rectal cancer patients and may enhance physical function while minimizing adverse changes in body composition and cancer-related fatigue. These initial findings need to be confirmed in randomized controlled trials.
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