We’ve heard a lot lately about the importance of physical activity for helping to prevent disease, thanks to the release of the Preventative Health Taskforce report.  So it’s timely to be reminded that activity can also be beneficial for those with illness.

Dr Janette Vardy, a medical oncologist at at Sydney Cancer Centre and the University of  Sydney, has sent in the following post about some new research that may be of particular interest to those affected by cancer.  She writes:

“Cancer is a common problem in Australia, with one in every two to three people being diagnosed in their lifetime.  Survival rates from cancer have improved as a result of earlier detection, better anti-cancer treatment, and improved supportive care.  Consequently there are more than 650,000 cancer survivors in Australia today.  Many live with the long-term effects of their cancer and anti-cancer treatments.

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The Survivorship Research Group, based at the University of Sydney and Sydney Cancer Centre, designs and runs studies investigating the longer-term health and psychosocial effects of cancer and its treatment, these include fatigue, quality of life, cognitive function, and pain.  We develop and test interventions to reduce these effects.  Physical activity interventions are an example.

We know that being physically active reduces the chance of developing colon and breast cancer.  What we don’t know is if it helps to stop an early stage cancer recurring.  Properly controlled clinical trials are necessary to answer this question.

Only 20-30 percent of cancer survivors meet the recommended physical activity guidelines.  We know that just telling people to exercise is not enough.  People need long-term support and advice to incorporate physical activity into their lifestyle.

The Survivorship Research Group has recently launched two studies evaluating the impact of physical activity programmes in two patient groups in randomised controlled trials that will provide definitive evidence for the benefit of physical activity or not.

The CHALLENGE Study, an international collaboration with National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group, is for people with early stage colon cancer who have finished adjuvant chemotherapy. Participants are randomised to receive either usual care or a structured physical activity programme over three years.  All participants will be followed 6 monthly fitness and questionnaire assessments to determine the effect of the physical activity program on the rate of cancer recurrence.  The study is now recruiting participants in Sydney and will soon be opening in most capital cities.

Our Physical Activity in Lung Cancer (“PAL”) study is the first of its kind for people with advanced lung cancer or mesothelioma.  Participants are randomised to usual care or a two-month physical activity intervention.   We will be assessing the effect of the physical activity intervention on the level of fatigue reported by participants.

In both studies we will also be assessing the impact of the interventions on quality of life, physical fitness, anxiety and depression, sleep, cognitive function, sedentary and patterns of activity.  Participants donate blood for biomarker studies to help determine the underlying biochemical processes by which physical activity impacts on cancer recurrence.

Both studies aim to assist cancer survivors live the healthiest lives they can post-cancer.”

If you are interested in knowing more about the study please call 1800-778-167 and leave a message. One of our research team will get back to you within a day or two to talk more about the studies.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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