EXERCISE may reduce the side effects caused by radiotherapy in patients with breast cancer. While radiotherapy is an important component of breast cancer treatment, it can negatively impacted quality of life and lead to cancer-related fatigue. New research shows that exercise could make this treatment more tolerable.
The study included 89 patients, split into a group that completed a 12-week, home-based programme (43 participants), which consisted of a weekly exercise regime of an accumulated 30–40 minutes of aerobic exercise and one to two resistance training sessions, and a control group that did not participate in the programme. The study showed that patients who exercised recovered quickly during and after radiotherapy compared to the control group, and that it led to a significant increase in quality of life. There were no adverse events related to the exercise. The researchers stated that this sort of exercise is feasible, safe, and effective in improving health-related quality of life and accelerating recovery from cancer-related fatigue. The programme is low-cost and does not require in-person supervision or travel, so it can be done at any time and in any location, which is highly beneficial to the patients.
The researchers also stated that less exercise was still beneficial for these patients. While the programme aimed to increase progressively to meet the target of the national guidelines for patients with cancer, the exercise programmes were matched to the participants’ capacity, and they found that even smaller quantities of exercise had significant effects on quality of life and cancer-related fatigue. Furthermore, study lead Georgios Mavropalias, Edith Cowan University (ECU), Joondalup, Australia, stated: “The exercise programme in this study seems to have induced changes in the participants’ behaviour around physical activity.” Many patients who started the supervised programme continued to exercise, and they reported significant improvements up to 12 months after the end of the programme.