Women diagnosed with breast cancer should either get exercising or keep exercising. This is the message from a new study in Springers Journal of Cancer Survivorship by Catherine Alfano and colleagues at the Ohio State University1. The study of over 500 women who had survived breast cancer highlights how physical activity, and more specifically the intensity and amount of physical activity you do before and after cancer treatment, can affect future symptoms and your quality of life.
Cancer symptoms and those brought on by its treatment can have a huge impact on everyday life. Physical symptoms commonly include fatigue, post-surgery pain, hormone-related symptoms in-cluding hot flashes, sweats, palpitations, urinary incontinence and cognitive and mood changes. Psychological effects such as anxiety and depression are also common. Physical symptoms exac-erbate anxiety as they are a constant reminder of the cancer and add to the worry about whether it will recur. Some of these symptoms are seen in cancer survivors as long as 20 years after the can-cer has gone.
Participants in this study from New Mexico and western Washington were asked to score their lev-els of pain and physical sensation, hormone-related symptoms, sexual interest/dysfunction, fatigue and physical health-related quality of life at 6, 29 and 39 months post-diagnosis. They were also asked to quantify their physical activity levels based on household activity, moderately vigorous activity, vigorous activity and sports/recreational activity at these times. The authors expected to see higher levels of activity being related to fewer physical symptoms and higher health-related quality of life.
Surprisingly, women who had done a lot of exercise before their cancer had no fewer symptoms than those who had not done much exercise. However, the biggest difference in cancer-related symptoms and quality of life was seen in those who either maintained or increased their activi
Contact: Renate Bayaz