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Will Exercise Be Future Cancer Therapy?

Will Exercise Be Future Cancer Therapy?
(Copyright DPC)

Tuesday, 24 May 2016 03:46 PM


Future cancer victims might have a lot in common with Alfred Roberts, who at age 70 regularly plays hockey. Roberts, who has advanced prostate cancer that has spread to his bones, still plays hockey twice a week and has no plans to quit.

"I've always been active," Roberts says. "Hockey keeps me in shape and keeps my mind off things. I've got friends that have played until age 80, and my goal is to beat them!"

Several studies have concluded that exercise improves the quality of life of people with cancer, but urologist-oncologist Fred Saad at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre believes exercises' benefits for cancer patients go much further.

Dr. Saad believes that physical exercise has a direct effect on cancer, as effective as drugs, for treating patients with prostate cancer, even in advanced stages of the disease.

"Typical patients with metastases often become sedentary," he says. "It is thought that this affects cancer progression," he said. Dr. Saad has joined forces with Australian exercise medicine expert Robert Newton to lead the first international study which aims to demonstrate that exercise literally extends the life of patients with metastatic prostate cancer.

"Normally, patients at this stage have a life expectancy of two to three years," he says. "We want to reduce mortality by at least 22 percent, which represents about six months of longer survival.

"This is the equivalent benefit of a new drug," he says. "Exercise could therefore supplement available treatments, inexpensively."

In the coming weeks, some sixty hospitals across the world will begin recruiting patients. In total, nearly 900 men with advanced prostate cancer will participate.

"We will study exercise as if it were a drug added to standard treatments," says Saad. "All patients will be treated within the latest scientific knowledge for this type of cancer. They will continue to follow their therapies and take their medications. But half of the patients will receive psychosocial support with general recommendations on physical exercise.
The other half will also follow a high intensity exercise program," he explained.

Newton has designed a specific strength and cardiovascular training program for patients in the "exercise" group. "They will have an hour of aerobic and resistance training three times a week. An exercise specialist will supervise them for the first 12 months, and then they will continue without direct supervision," says Newton. "We will evaluate quality of life, appetite, and treatment tolerance in relation to their improved physical condition."

Blood samples and muscle biopsies will help scientists better understand the benefits of exercise. "People with cancer develop all sorts of complications related to metastases, such as fractures or severe pain. It is hoped that exercise will strengthen muscles and bones," said Dr. Saad.

The hypothesis is that exercise has a direct impact on cancer progression in addition to helping patients better tolerate therapy. Ultimately, they will live longer. Could the findings be extended to other types of cancer? It is too early to tell, but researchers are betting that exercise could well become the next anticancer therapy.

Alfred Roberts is also convinced that exercise helps defy the odds: "As long as I can skate, I'll play hockey!"


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Future cancer victims might have a lot in common with Alfred Roberts, who at age 70 regularly plays hockey. Roberts, who has advanced prostate cancer that has spread to his bones, still plays hockey twice a week and has no plans to quit. I've always been active, Roberts...
exercise, future, cancer, therapy
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2016-46-24
Tuesday, 24 May 2016 03:46 PM
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