Study to Investigate if Exercise Improves Outcomes, Decreases Chemo Side Effects in Colon Cancer


A new study will analyze the effect of exercise on chemotherapy tolerability and outcomes in patients with colon cancer.

Prior research has shown that working out may lead to better outcomes for patients with cancer, but now new studies will analyze if aerobic exercise makes chemotherapy more tolerable and potentially decreases risk of colon cancer recurrence.

“Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the United States. It kills more than 150,000 U.S. residents a year,” John Kirwan, biomedical executive director at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said in a press release. “Cutting-edge research projects like these could change the way colon cancer is treated through precision exercise prescriptions that help more people survive this deadly disease and also improve their quality of life.”

READ MORE: Exercise May Help Prevent Cancer or its Recurrence

Two studies, which will include more than 300 patients with cancer, will look at if exercise makes chemotherapy more tolerable and less toxic, as well as prevent fat from invading the muscle tissue — an event known as myosteatosis — which has been linked to cancer recurrence, heart disease and death.

“More than half the patients with colon cancer treated with chemotherapy have to delay treatment or have a lower dose of treatment because the drugs have so many side effects,” Justin C. Brown, director of the Cancer Metabolism Program at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, said in the release. “That’s known as chemotherapy toxicity.”

Brown will be leading both studies. One will examine if exercise improves skeletal muscle function and its ability to burn energy, which may prevent inflammation and insulin resistance, a condition when cells don’t respond well to insulin and can’t easily use the glucose (sugar) in the blood — both of which have been linked to type 2 diabetes.

The second study will focus on how exercise effects chemotherapy. This trial will include patients with colon cancer and will look at both myosteatosis and if exercise has an effect on the tolerability and side effects from chemotherapy.

More than 200 patients with stage 2 to 3 colon cancer will be recruited for the chemotherapy portion of the study, which will be conducted in Baton Rouge, Boston and Oakland. The myosteatosis research will include more than 130 patients with stage 1 to 3 colon cancer and will take place in Louisiana.

“We think aerobic exercise will allow patients to be treated with optimal doses of chemotherapy, reduce the incidence of chemotherapy toxicities, and enable more people to be cured,” Brown said.

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