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  • Author: Amy A. Kirkham x
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Amy A. Kirkham, Riggs J. Klika, Tara Ballard, Paul Downey and Kristin L. Campbell

Background: Although exercise has been widely established as an efficacious rehabilitative therapy for cancer survivors in rigorously designed research studies, demonstration of translation of this research into clinical oncology practice is needed. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a real-world cancer rehabilitation program implemented within a healthcare setting. Patients and Methods: This study involved 299 adult cancer survivors enrolled in a hospital-based, supervised, individualized, cancer rehabilitation program. A retrospective review of the 132 participants who completed the follow-up assessment was performed. Sixty-minute sessions consisting of aerobic, resistance, flexibility, and relaxation exercises were performed twice weekly. Questionnaires and fitness assessments were administered at enrollment and after 24 sessions by exercise physiologists. Change in a number of health-related physical fitness and patient-reported outcomes and the influence of baseline characteristics on program outcomes were assessed. Results: There were no baseline differences between those who completed the follow-up assessment and those who withdrew. Statistically and/or clinically meaningful improvements occurred in functional capacity, blood pressure, muscular endurance, flexibility, health-related quality of life, and fatigue, but not in body composition. Age, marital status, radiation treatment status, exercise frequency before diagnosis, smoking status, and alcohol consumption frequency influenced functional capacity and/or quality-of-life changes. Conclusions: Adoption of cancer rehabilitation as a standard part of oncology care may improve cancer survivors' health and well-being.

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Amy A. Kirkham, Kelcey A. Bland, Holly Wollmann, Alis Bonsignore, Don C. McKenzie, Cheri Van Patten, Karen A. Gelmon and Kristin Campbell

Background: Overwhelming randomized controlled trial evidence demonstrates that exercise has positive health impacts during and after treatment for breast cancer. Yet, evidence generated by studies in which exercise programs are delivered outside a tightly controlled randomized trial setting is limited. The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of an evidence-based exercise program with real-world implementation on physical fitness and quality of life (QoL). Patients and Methods: Oncologists referred women with early-stage breast cancer who were scheduled to receive adjuvant chemotherapy. The program consisted of supervised aerobic and resistance exercise of moderate to vigorous intensity 3 times per week until the end of treatment (chemotherapy ± radiotherapy), then twice per week for 10 weeks, followed by once per week for 10 weeks. Health-related physical fitness and QoL were assessed at baseline, end of treatment, end of program, and 1-year follow-up. Results: A total of 73 women were enrolled. Estimated peak VO2 (VO2peak), QoL, and body weight were maintained between baseline and end of treatment, whereas muscular strength improved (P<.01). By the end of the program, VO2peak, heart rate recovery, waist circumference, and some aspects of QoL were improved (all P<.01) relative to baseline. One year later, VO2peak, QoL, and waist circumference were maintained relative to end of program, whereas the improvements in strength and heart rate recovery had dissipated (all P<.01). Conclusions: Evidence-based exercise programming delivered with real-world implementation maintained VO2peak, strength, and QoL during adjuvant treatment and improved these measures after treatment completion among women with breast cancer. Continued guidance and support may be required for long-term maintenance of strength improvements in this population.