Patients with rectal cancer reported aerobic exercise during neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy to be more enjoyable and less difficult than expected despite significant barriers, a study published in the journal Supportive Care in Cancer has shown.1

Although aerobic exercise is feasible and safe for patients with rectal cancer both during and after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy, patients’ motivation to exercise remains unclear. Therefore, researchers sought to explore the motivational outcomes, perceived benefits and harms, and perceived barriers to exercise during and after neoadjuvant treatment.

For the study, researchers enrolled 18 patients and had them participate in supervised aerobic exercise during treatment followed by unsupervised exercise after treatment.

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Researchers found that patients reported exercise during treatment to be more enjoyable (P=.003) and less difficult (P=.037) than initially anticipated. During treatment, the most common perceived benefits of exercise were cardiovascular endurance, quality of life, and self-esteem, while physical functioning, cardiovascular endurance, and quality of life were the most common after treatment.

Results also showed that fatigue, diarrhea, and skin irritation were most common perceived harms of exercise during chemoradiotherapy, whereas fatigue and hand-foot syndrome were the most common perceived harms after treatment.

During neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy, patients reported side effects most frequently as a barrier to exercise, but a lack of motivation was the most common barrier after treatment.

“This positive motivational response may facilitate recruitment and adherence in future interventions,” the authors conclude. “Moreover, rectal cancer patients identified potential benefits and harms that should be closely monitored in future interventions.”


1. Morielli AR, Usmani N, Boulé NG, et al. Exercise motivation in rectal cancer patients during and after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy [published online ahead of print February 4, 2016]. Supp Care Cancer. doi:10.1007/s00520-016-3110-9.