Exercise prior to radiation treatment can help patients better handle the side effects of treatment.
Getting plenty of physical activity before radiation treatment can improve symptoms of fatigue and shortness of breath brought on by the therapy, according to recent study findings.
Researchers assessed quality of life in 130 patients with breast cancer, lung cancer or mediastinal lymphoma who were treated with radiation to the chest. Data was collected before radiation therapy was administered, immediately afterward and five to nine months after therapy ended.
Immediately after therapy, patients with lung cancer and lymphoma reported greater fatigue and dyspnea, which later improved. Patients with breast cancer, however, reported significantly increased physical activity and decreased fatigue over time.
For all patients, greater physical activity over time was significantly associated with concurrent improvements in fatigue and shortness of breath, according to the researchers.
“While our study is (small), it suggests that high levels of physical activity prior to initiation of radiation therapy for cancer are associated with better physical functioning and quality of life with cancer treatment,” Dr. Sheela Krishnan, a cardiologist at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia, said.