Henry Ford Health SystemsAll patients with breast and prostate cancer should regularly exercise during and after cancer treatment. As a recent study conducted by the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit determines that those breast and prostate cancer patients who regularly exercise during and after cancer treatment report having a better quality of life and being less fatigued.

An extra-ordinary program called ExCITE (Exercise and Cancer Integrative Therapies and Education) was introduced by the investigators to measure how exercise impacts cancer patients. ExCITE can be enabled in those patients who are provided with cancer treatment, so that individualized exercise programs can be created. While some patients came into the provided fitness centers to workout, others were allowed to exercise at home during various stages of their care.

“Using exercise as an approach to cancer care has the potential to benefit patients both physically and psychologically, as well as mitigate treatment side effects”, highlighted Eleanor M. Walker, M.D., lead author and division director of breast services in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Henry Ford Hospital.

The study until now comprises 30 female breast cancer patients and 20 prostate cancer patients, all aged between 35 to 80 years. All the patients were newly diagnosed when they began the ExCITE program. The investigators analyzed the patients during treatment and for one-year following the completion of cancer treatment.

Even before initiating the exercise program, all the patients exercise capacity, skeletal muscle strength and endurance were measured. Patients who faced hot flashes, pain, nausea/vomiting, insomnia and neuropathy due to cancer treatment were provided with acupuncture.

Dr. Walker shared, “Plus, exercise is a great alternative to patients combating fatigue and nausea who are considering using supplements which may interfere with medications and chemotherapy they’re taking during cancer treatment.”

Cheryl Fallen of Gross Pointe Park, Mich., was under chemotherapy for breast cancer while she took part in the ExCITE program. She revealed that she didn’t experience some of the more common side-effects from treatment like nausea, fatigue and trouble with memory. During chemotherapy she affirmed a fall in the white blood cell but regular exercise probably helped her to overcome it. However, exercise should be conducted only under the guidance of the patients’ physicians.

The study will be presented with a poster of the study’s design and intervention methods on June 7 at the 2010 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago.