Importance of Exercise
I don't blame you a bit if you are pretty tired of this topic. I am, too, but it keeps rearing its' sneaker-wearing head and insisting on attention. As we left the gym a few days ago, my husband commented about how good he always feels after working out. I told him then, and I tell you now, that I have never felt that famous endorphin or lovely rush that others describe. Even when I trained for and ran a marathon, I never experienced anything like a runner's high. For me, it is always just discipline and stubborn behavior and knowing that daily exercise is good for me in several ways. What works for me is just getting out of bed and going to the gym--as in, do not take a moment to think about how much I don't want to do this. Whatever works for you is what you should be--but the mounting evidence is that you should indeed Just Do It.
And here is the latest from ASCO:
Not Working Out: Getting Cancer Patients to Just Do It
Harold Burstein, MD, PhD; Jeffrey A. Meyerhardt, MD, MPH
Harold Burstein, MD, PhD: Hello. I'm Dr Harold Burstein, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a medical oncologist at the Breast Cancer Treatment Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Welcome to this edition of Medscape Oncology
Insights. We're coming to you from the 2015 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago.
Mounting evidence suggests that lifestyle modifications can improve survival for cancer patients and be a very important part of their ongoing care. I wanted to talk today about what those lifestyle modifications are and, in particular, the role of the oncologist in helping patients make those changes.
I'm delighted to welcome my Dana-Farber friend and colleague, Dr Jeffrey Meyerhardt. Jeff is associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the clinical director of the Center for Gastrointestinal Cancer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Thanks, Jeff, for joining us.
Jeffrey A. Meyerhardt, MD, MPH: Thanks, Hal, for having me.
Dr Burstein: You've done a lot of epidemiologic research, you've looked at lifestyle modifications in cooperative group trials, and you have some prospective studies going on. What do we know concretely that patients should absolutely be doing in certain disease contexts, such as colon cancer or breast cancer, to make an impact on outcome?
Dr Meyerhardt: Right now, if we use the word "definitive," there are no randomized trials yet, particularly for exercise. There are ongoing ones. But we have consistent evidence that people who are physically active after being diagnosed with colorectal,[1,2] breast,[3,4] or some other cancer types (prostate cancer and a few others) have a lower risk for recurrence as well as improved survival.
These data have led to various trials. There's a trial in colorectal cancer survivors, for patients with stage 2 and stage 3 colon cancer, where patients are randomly assigned to a supervised physical activity program or a control group; the study is looking specifically at tumor recurrences and survival. That's an ongoing study.