Exercise may boost lung cancer survivors' well-being
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Survivors of early-stage lung cancer may enjoy a better quality of life if they can manage to get regular exercise, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that among 175 patients who'd been treated for early- stage lung cancer up to 6 years earlier, those who were regularly active tended to report a better quality of life -- particularly when it came to physical well-being.
While the prognosis for lung cancer is often poor, people who are diagnosed before the disease has spread have better long-term survival odds. About half are still alive 5 years later.
Little is known about how often doctors recommend regular exercise to lung cancer survivors, according to lead researcher Dr. Elliot J. Coups of Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.
He suggests that patients who are interested in getting physically active talk to their doctors about it.
"Lung cancer survivors often have (other) medical conditions that may affect their ability to be physically active," Coups told Reuters Health. "So, as a lung cancer survivor, it's important to engage in activities that match both your abilities and your preferences."
The study findings, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, are based on surveys of 175 survivors of early-stage non-small cell lung cancer -- the less aggressive of the two major forms of lung cancer.
Study participants were asked about their current exercise habits, as well as their habits before diagnosis and during the 6 months after treatment. They also completed a standard questionnaire on quality of life, which includes questions on physical functioning, mental health and emotional well-being.
Overall, the researchers found that 27 percent were currently meeting experts' general recommendations for exercise: moderate activity, such as walking, for at least 150 minutes per week, or vigorous exercise for at least 1 hour per week.
These men and women generally reported a higher quality of life than their less-active counterparts, Coups and his colleagues found. The difference was mainly seen in measures of physical well-being, but regular exercisers also tended to report fewer depression symptoms.
According to the researchers, more studies are needed to develop and test exercise programs designed specifically to help lung cancer survivors get active.
For now, they may want to try things like walking around their neighborhood, gardening or swimming, according to Coups.
"The main thing," he said, "is to engage in activities that you enjoy and that you are comfortable with."
SOURCE: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, February 2009.
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