“Exercise benefits everyone, not just those who are well, and too few people are aware that gentle aerobic exercise and strength training should be as much a part of treating advanced lung cancer as anti-tumour therapy,” said Dr. Quan Tran, Medical Oncologist at the Cancer Care Centre in Urraween, Australia, during his presentation at the 2018 edition of European Society for Medical Oncology Conference.
While it might be the last thing people would consider as necessary, even low activity training can be surprisingly valuable in fighting disease. Fatigue and shortness of breath combined with low mood, lack of motivation, pain and side effects from treatment are the usual reasons why patients do not exercise.
A recent study involving 227 patients with advanced or metastatic lung cancer showed that easy aerobic and muscle strengthening training improved symptom score by 10% during chemotherapy.
“This is the first time that patients undergoing palliative care for lung cancer have been shown to benefit from exercise. Patients who exercised also felt more independent and needed less help with daily activities, and our research suggested that they may be able to have more and longer chemotherapy which, in turn, may result in better tumour control,” explained Dr. Joachim Wiskemann.
Estimates say that more than half of patients suffering from this disease would be willing and able to exercise. It is important to note that any type of physical activity should be coordinated with the oncologist and cancer nurses.
“Physical fitness is a key factor in determining whether patients can start treatment and maintain dosing. Exercise may therefore become a primary adjuvant therapy to improve fitness so that patients are in the best possible shape to start or continue treatment and tolerate toxicities of other therapies”, added Associate Professor Dr. Martijn Stuiver.