Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg, in collaboration with couples of scientists, discovered that regular exercise can reduce the risk of cancer and help cancer therapy. They found that people who exercise regularly are more energetic and less unlikely to develop chronic fatigue syndromes, a common disorder after cancer treatment.
Though modern medical treatments have helped prolong the survival of more than half of cancer patients, the success is often accompanied by serious side effects like chronic fatigue syndrome, which eventually leads to a serious decline in quality of life. A large number of studies in recent years have shown that moderate and vigorous activity can reduce the side effects of cancer treatment and improve the quality of life for cancer survivors.
The international research team was led by Laurien M. Buffart, an expert at the Free University of Amsterdam. The scientists combined the data of patients from a total of 34 trials to find out what effect sport has on chronic fatigue syndrome during and after cancer treatment, on physical endurance, muscle strength and the self-reported physical function in everyday life and quality of life.
The results showed that exercise therapy has different effects on individual cancer patients, and a tailor exercise therapy for individuals can achieve good therapeutic results. In general, all patients can benefit from proper exercise during cancer treatment, regardless of their initial conditions. After cancer treatment, moderate strength training may improve the quality of life of patients with poor physical capacity, and more intensive training is needed for patients with good general health. However, patients who are receiving intensive therapy shall not do exercise.
“Physical exercise gives not only health benefits to patients but also confident belief that the cancer therapy will continue as planned. This helps increase their cure rates,” noted Karen Steindorf, a project researcher at the German Cancer Research Center, “However, the effects of exercise therapy vary individually.”
She concluded: “Basically, we firmly believe that all cancer patients can benefit from endurance and strength training”.