If you had asked me, during much of the 20th century, whether exercise was an important component of cancer treatment, I would have answered no. In fact, we physicians thought that exertion should be avoided during cancer treatment. Then, a randomized trial for patients with Stage II breast cancer began to change our views. This study showed that 10 weeks of aerobic exercise decreased chemotherapy-induced nausea, while improving functional capacity and body composition.
Subsequent studies have shown benefits of exercise for patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy for several types of cancer. This improvement can occur even with elderly patients, with improvements in memory, self-reported health measures, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
Exercise has also been shown to help with sexual dysfunction among some men undergoing androgen deprivation therapy for advanced prostate cancer.
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Winningham ML, et al. Oncol Nurs Forum 1988;15:447-50.
Sprod LK, et al. J Geriatr Oncol 2013;3:90-97.
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