Exercise, generally good for health, is also a key determinant in lessening cancer mortality. Specifically, patients with breast cancer or colorectal cancer, experience better physical function, less fatigue and uplifted mood. The mechanisms of exercise responsible for these benefits are not based on direct evidence, however, multiple hypotheses reveal how exercise can lead to an increase in immune surveillance, less oxidative damage and reduced systematic inflation.
A non-linear dose-response relationship between cancer mortality and exercise was found in general population according to a meta-analysis of 71 cohort studies including 3,985,164 subjects from the general population and 66,995 cancer patients, a higher level of exercise pertained to lowered cancer-specific mortality among both subjects.
A study conducted on breast and colorectal cancer patients revealed that those subjects who were prone to exercise way before diagnosis experienced lower breast and all-cause cancer-related mortality. Exercise just before the diagnosis over a lesser period of times also showed lowered cancer-related mortality as compared to subjects with no exercise habit. Exercise after diagnosis of cancer in patients also proved beneficial for reduced cancer-related and breast cancer mortality. Similar results were found for colorectal cancer patients.
Another study dealt with 103 patients suffering from allogenic stem cell transplant. The group of patients that underwent exercise showed a low 12% total mortality rate in contrast to the 28.3% of the control group undergoing no exercise. The exercises (endurance and resistance) were conducted 1 to 4 weeks prior to hospital admission and kept up to 8 weeks after being discharged.
On some types of cancers, the exercise benefits had less effect. 122 patients undergoing lymphoma experienced no prominent difference in cancer-related mortality as compared to the control group but a slight trend towards benefit was noticed. Men with prostate cancer saw no clear difference in prostate-specific antigen levels, despite resistance exercise both with and without aerobics.
However, it is agreed with sufficient evidence, that exercise generally improves the quality of life for all type of patients. Women with breast cancer go through better emotional and physical functions with reduced stress levels and refined cardiorespiratory fitness. Exercise is an effective anti-depressant, especially for patients with hematologic malignancies. Most importantly, several meta-analysis studies have shown that exercise potentially reduces fatigue levels in cancer patients, both during and after cancer treatments.
Hence, it is our duty to help cancer patients keep up a healthy exercise routine and make them aware of its fruitful benefits.