A structured ten-week exercise intervention is associated with improvements in quality of life, fatigue, and functional status in adolescents and young adults with cancer (#321)
Cancer and its treatment are frequently associated with impaired physical fitness which often persists into survivorship. To our knowledge, no published studies have addressed the value of an exercise programme for cancer patients within the adolescent and young adult (AYA) age group.
We developed a 10-week multimodal group exercise intervention for AYA patients aged between 15 and 25 years who were either undergoing or had recently completed therapy for cancer. This programme was supervised by an exercise physiologist, with outpatients attending 2 – 3 sessions per week for 10 weeks at our hospital gymnasium or in a private gymnasium. Each patient had an individualised exercise programme comprising cardiovascular, resistance, flexibility and core stability exercises. Outcome measures included Ferran’s and Power’s Quality of Life Assessment, Revised Piper Fatigue Scale, Fullarton’s Functional Assessment for Older Adults, and Australian Functional Fitness Norms. Paired t-tests were used to compare results prior to commencing and after completing the programme
55 AYA cancer patients were enrolled between 2008 and 2012. 35 were male and 20 female, with a range of cancer diagnoses. 46 (84%) completed the programme. Highly significant improvements were observed in quality of life scores (Mean (± SD) = 19.7 (± 4.0) pre-intervention vs 22.1 (±3.4) post-intervention, p=0.0005), Piper fatigue scores (4.7 (± 2.0) pre-intervention vs 3.2 (± 1.8) post-intervention; p<0.0001), and in 11 of the 13 functional assessment measures.
In conclusion, the high completion rate shows that a structured exercise programme is a well accepted intervention for AYA cancer patients. The improvement in functional assessment measures indicates that the programme improves physical fitness, at least in the short-term, in a group at risk of persisting impaired fitness. Furthermore, the improvements in fatigue levels and quality of life suggest that the benefits of an exercise programme extend beyond just physical fitness for AYA cancer patients.