Author(s): Knols R, Aaronson NK, Uebelhart D, Fransen J, Aufdemkampe G
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Abstract PURPOSE: To systematically review the methodologic quality of, and summarize the evidence from trials examining the effectiveness of physical exercise in improving the level of physical functioning and psychological well-being of cancer patients during and after medical treatment. METHODS: Thirty-four randomized clinical trials (RCTs) and controlled clinical trials were identified, reviewed for substantive results, and assessed for methodologic quality. RESULTS: Four of 34 trials met all (seven of seven) methodologic criteria on the Delphi criteria list. Failure to conceal the sequencing of treatment allocation before patient recruitment, failure to blind the outcome assessor, and failure to employ an intention-to-treat analysis strategy were the most prevalent methodologic shortcomings. Various exercise modalities have been applied, differing in content, frequency, intensity, and duration. Positive results have been observed for a diverse set of outcomes, including physiologic measures, objective performance indicators, self-reported functioning and symptoms, psychological well-being, and overall health-related quality of life. CONCLUSION: The trials reviewed were of moderate methodologic quality. Together they suggest that cancer patients may benefit from physical exercise both during and after treatment. However, the specific beneficial effects of physical exercise may vary as a function of the stage of disease, the nature of the medical treatment, and the current lifestyle of the patient. Future RCTs should use larger samples, use appropriate comparison groups to rule out the possibility of an attention-placebo effect, use a comparable set of outcome measures, pay greater attention to issues of motivation and adherence of patients participating in exercise programs, and examine the effect of exercise on cancer survival.
This article was published in J Clin Oncol
and referenced in Journal of Cancer Science & Therapy