Patients with breast or prostate cancer experience a better of quality of life if they exercise regularly, say researchers from Henry Ford Hospital.

The study, led by Eleanor Walker, MD, division director of breast services in the Department Radiation Oncology at Henry Ford Hospital, examined how exercise impacts cancer patients during and after cancer treatment. Using a program called ExCITE (Exercise and Cancer Integrative Therapies and Education), Dr. Walker and colleagues worked with patients who were receiving cancer treatment to create individualized exercise programs. Before the exercise program started, members of Henry Ford’s Preventative Cardiology Division measured the patient’s exercise capacity, skeletal muscle strength, and endurance. In addition, general blood work, metabolic screens, bone density, and inflammatory biomarkers were also obtained.

“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, said Dr. Walker. “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.”

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Researchers reported on one participant in the ExCITE program who was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. Through a mix of exercise, acupuncture, and good nutrition, the patient did not experience some of the more common side effects from treatment like nausea, fatigue, and trouble with memory.

“ExCITE offers cancer patients a way to holistically approach their cancer care by tailoring a specific exercise routine to fit the needs of the patient, whether it’s rehabilitation after surgery, or to enhance circulation or improve the immune system prior to chemotherapy or radiation,” said Dr. Walker.

The study’s findings will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.