Health News: Study finds Exercise more effective than drugs for Cancer Fatigue

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The odds are someone you know has been affected by cancer, either yourself or someone close to you. Statistically by the time you reach 85 every second person you know will develop it. Luckily today's treatment outcomes are more effective than ever. In some instances, however, the side effects of treatment such as chemotherapy are just as deleterious as the cancer itself, leaving patients depressed, fatigued and immunosuppressed. However, there is hope!

New research findings released last month show that exercise is more effective than traditional medications for treating cancer related fatigue. Cancer related fatigue is very common among cancer patients and can be both acute or ongoing. Cancer related fatigue negatively affects oncology patients and can lead to decreased treatment adherence and poor patient outcomes.

This research combined the results of 113 unique studies treating over 11,000 cancer patients comparing the three most commonly recommended treatments for cancer related fatigue; medication, psychological treatment and exercise therapy.
This high-powered evidence showed exercise therapy was significantly more effective at reducing cancer-related fatigue both during and after cancer treatment compared with medication or psychological treatment. In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association recommended that clinicians should be prescribing exercise as a first line treatment for cancer patients.
Exercising during chemotherapy and radiation can help ease side effects such as nausea, fatigue and can help boost the immune system. While the side effects of chemotherapy can make exercising challenging, the literature clearly demonstrates that staying as active as possible can improve patient outcomes.

This research places exercise at the forefront of managing cancer related fatigue. The role of Exercise Physiologists is integral in this role to ensure treatment is individualised to patient’s treatment status, functional capacity, physical limitations and medical history.

The potential benefits of exercise during and after treatment are huge and research has conclusively shown its effectiveness in helping people regain their quality of life, psychological well-being and maximising treatment outcomes. For more information about exercise for cancer related fatigue please see our website or contact us on 1300 630 204.