Ask The Doc - Exercise And Cancer

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Question: What effect does exercise have on cancer?

By Dr. Ranveer Nand, MD, Medical Oncology, Columbia St. Mary’s Van Dyke Cancer Center Ozaukee

Surgery. Radiation. Chemotherapy. Hormone therapy. Exercise therapy.

At Columbia St. Mary’s Van Dyke Cancer Center Ozaukee, we believe exercise is an integral part of cancer treatment. Since March 2015, we’ve been conducting a clinical trial to promote exercise during chemotherapy.

The objective of this trial is to see if including exercise in our patient’s treatment plan, educating them about exercise and offering an on-site exercise program during their treatment increases their compliance to exercise during and after treatment.

Research has shown what many experts have always suspected – exercise after a cancer diagnosis can improve quality of life and curtail side effects related to the disease and treatment. Exercise has also been proven to reduce such side effects as fatigue, depression, osteoporosis and heart disease for all cancer patients.

The National Cancer Institute reports strong evidence that breast cancer patients who exercise, particularly those who are hormone receptor positive, have less recurrence. MacMillan Cancer Support’s “Move More” report looked at 60 studies and surveyed over 400 health professionals and concluded doing the recommended amount of exercise per week, a breast cancer patient’s risk of recurrence could potentially be reduced by 40 percent. More recently there has been strong evidence that exercise may also reduce the risk of a recurrence in colon cancer as well.

The problem is, as we all know, when someone is diagnosed with cancer they tend to slow down. Stress, depression, pain, feeling sick or fatigued from cancer or treatment can contribute to inactivity. Many remain sedentary even after treatment. Additionally, many patients are not sure what is safe and most effective for them when it comes to exercising during and after treatment. For some, surgery alters their body image and chemotherapy regimens can cause significant weight gain and destroy stamina.

Since the trial launched, 30 cancer patients have enrolled. Cancer types have included breast, lung, testicular, bladder, colon, ovarian and lymphoma. As part of their treatment plan they participate in the Columbia St. Mary’s Wellness Program. This is a structured exercise and educational program offered under the supervision of our Cardiovascular Pulmonary Rehabilitation Staff. Preliminary results reveal on average patients are exercising more and reporting less fatigue while on chemotherapy.

That’s why more than just suggesting exercise to our patients, we’ve included a “prescription for exercise” as part of the treatment plan. With guidance and a structured environment overseen by medical professionals, we hope our patients will see faster recovery, improved quality of life – including their body image and energy level – and potentially reduces their chance of recurrence.

If you’re interested in participating in the trial, please contact Peggy Long, RN Navigator, at 262-243-8255.

Dr. Ranveer Nand is a medical oncologist at Columbia St. Mary’s Van Dyke Cancer Center. For more information, please call 877-259-9358.

This article appeared in the Thursday, May 12, issue of The Ozaukee News Graphic.



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