Exercise can be a boon for those dealing with the rigors of cancer, either during or after treatment. Workouts such as yoga and strength training can help people cope with the effects of chemotherapy and other treatments, plus alleviate pain and ease depression and anxiety. Yet many cancer patients and survivors are hesitant to do any physical activity, and some treatments have been associated with compromising cardiovascular function.
But a recent study shows that cardiovascular function may not be influenced much by cancer treatments. The study, from the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University Medical Center, reported on 49 women who attended a doctor-run fitness clinic for cancer survivors. Information collected on the women included demographics and physical activity levels, plus their type of cancer treatment and its duration, and how long it had been since that treatment.
The women ranged in age from 30s through 70s. Their types of cancer varied (breast, ovarian, rectal and Hodgkin's disease) as did their treatments (surgery, radiation, herceptin, chemotherapy and antiestrogen therapy).
The study participants were asked to do a modified three-minute step test, and 35 women completed it. But the type of treatment, the duration of it and time since treatment seemed to have no effect on completing the test or on heart rate recovery.
In a release, study co-author Dr. Priscilla Furth said, "That isn't to say there aren't side-effects of some treatments that may hinder physical activity, but when it comes to actual cardiovascular fitness as measured in our clinic, many of the standard treatments didn't have a role."
The study was presented this week at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Seattle.
-- Jeannine Stein
Photo credit: Don Kelson / Los Angeles Times