Co-locating exercise facilities within radiation treatment centres may enhance exercise uptake and patient outcomes. As a result, we evaluated the effects of an on-site supervised exercise program administered during cancer patients’ acute treatment phase.
Over a 3-year period, 235 patients undergoing radiotherapy underwent supervised exercise within the radiation outpatient suites at Genesis Cancer Care in Perth, Western Australia. Patients with a variety of cancers, mainly breast (131 cases), prostate (41 cases) and bowel cancer (15 cases) undertook the program consisting of 60 minutes of aerobic and resistance exercise twice weekly either before or after their treatment sessions for the duration of therapy (6-7weeks). Patients could elect to undergo assessments at baseline, post-intervention and 3 months follow-up. Endpoints included upper and lower body muscle strength (1-RM), physical function (6m usual and fast walk, 6m backwards walk, 400m walk, chair rise, stair climb) and body composition (lean and fat mass) by DXA.
69 patients (58.9+12.2 years) undertook assessments with the majority (>75%) completing at least 12 training sessions. There were no adverse events to exercise. At post-intervention (n=49), significant improvements (p<0.05) were observed for muscle strength (7.1-21.5%) and physical function (3.3-10.1%), with no significant change in body composition. At 3 months follow-up (n=27), compared to baseline significant (p<0.05) improvements remained for leg press (21.4%) and seated row (9.1%) muscle strength, and for the 6m usual (9.2%), 6m backwards (18.5%), 400m walk (5%) and chair raise (9.8%) test.
On-site exercise undertaken during radiotherapy was well-accepted and safe for the patient with improvement or maintenance of key functional and body composition parameters. Where possible, the undertaking of exercise during radiotherapy is recommended to enhance patient outcomes.