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29 July 2011

Exercise benefits lung cancer survivors

Progressive resistance exercise training might be helpful for selected lung cancer survivors, a new study from Canada and Australia suggests.

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Progressive resistance exercise training might be helpful for selected lung cancer survivors, a new study from Canada and Australia suggests.

"It is definitely early research and perhaps too soon to make clinical recommendations for lung cancer patients," Dr Kerry S. Courneya said. "Nevertheless, resistance training appears to be safe and to improve muscular fitness in a select group of motivated and relatively healthy lung cancer patients."

This type of training has been helpful in other patient populations and in the elderly, but until now it hasn't been studied specifically in lung cancer survivors, according to a paper by Dr Courneya, of the University of Alberta, Edmonton and colleagues.

Lung cancer patients and exercise

As reported online in Lung Cancer, they initially screened close to 400 cancer survivors, most of whom (94%) had been diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer.

Forty patients were eligible and 17 were eventually enrolled. Exclusion criteria included medical problems, a short expected survival, continuing treatment, lack of interest, and distance from the centre.

The training programme involved 28 exercise sessions over approximately 10 weeks. One patient had to withdraw because of bony metastases and another dropped out after seven weeks.

Everyone else had significant increases in muscular strength, muscular endurance, six-minute walk distance, and other measures of muscular fitness.

They also had favourable changes of borderline significance, in self-reported bodily pain and physical health.

Dr Courneya said, "Whether these improvements in muscular fitness and physical functioning result in improved symptom management, quality of life, or survival remains to be determined." 

(Reuters Health, David Douglas, July 2011)

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