Effects of exercise on pain and fatigue in cancer
Previous literature has highlighted the benefits of post-surgical exercise in patients with rectal cancer. However, limited data exists on the pre-surgical but post-chemotherapy phases of cancer management, and the effects that exercise has on pain, sleep, and quality of life.
The authors of this study acknowledge the physiological benefits associated with exercise post-operatively, and aimed to examine benefits of exercise between chemotherapy treatment and surgical management of patients with rectal cancer.
34 patients who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and had met criteria for being in phases of post-chemotherapy but pre-surgical resection were included. The study consisted of a non-randomised model with 23 patients in the exercise group and 10 patients in the control group. The exercise group underwent a 6-week exercise programme, and reported quality of life outcome measures to note if any significant changes were reported to pain levels, fatigue and insomnia, as compared to those who did not engage in a structured exercise programme between chemotherapy and surgical interventions.
The authors of this study found improvements in pain levels, insomnia, and fatigue levels following exercise training - however, limited clinically significant changes were reported. The authors of this study mention limitations such as not controlling for baseline activity levels as well as a non-randomised and low sample size for this study.
Despite the fact that statistical significance of the findings was limited, the authors caution that the benefits of exercise on anxiety, depression, and sleep are well documented - these are quality of life aspects well known to suffer with cancer management. Also, while the findings may not be clinically significant, there were indeed improvements with exercise input, especially for pain. Thus, while the study may be limited in statistical findings, the benefits of exercise are well known and may still provide benefit in this patient population.
> From: Brunet et al., BMC Cancer 17 (2017) 153. All rights reserved to The Author(s). Click here for the online summary.