The effects of physical exercise in the palliative care phase for people with advanced cancer: a systematic review with meta-analysis

Does exercise benefit palliative care patients with advanced cancer? A systematic review found that physical activity programs were safe and feasible for these patients, with certain benefits to health outcomes. This study included 22 trials involving 2-week to 6-month interventions such as aerobic, resistance, mixed-mode, and other types of exercise. These trials focused on a variety of cancers, including lung, breast, prostate, multiple myeloma, and mixed cancer types. Of these trials, meta-analysis of 20 randomised control trials (1840 participants) was conducted. The authors found no difference in the risk of experiencing moderate to severe adverse events between patients with exercise routines and patients with usual care. The median retention rate (patients who completed the study) was above the 75% standard for clinically relevant feasibility. In addition, the median adherence rate (proportion of prescribed exercise sessions completed by participants) fell below 75% criterion for feasibility. Small to moderate positive effects of exercise were observed for quality of life, fatigue, aerobic fitness, and lower-body strength; these effects were statistically significant. Overall, a physical activity program did not significantly increase or decrease the safety of patients, and was deemed to be feasible given that this specific patient group experiences a high disease burden. There were several beneficial effects for patients’ health, suggesting that perhaps certain types of exercise may be prescribed for palliative care patients with advanced cancer. Read the original article here.
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