Therapeutic Exercise during Outpatient Radiation Therapy for Advanced Cancer: Feasibility and Impact on Physical Well-Being

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Abstract

Objective:

To characterize the feasibility of delivering a structured physical therapy (PT) program as part of a multidisciplinary intervention to patients undergoing outpatient radiation therapy for advanced cancer.

Design:

A single-blinded, randomized, controlled trial at a quaternary medical center outpatient clinic. One hundred three adults undergoing radiation therapy for advanced cancer with prognoses ≥6 mos and 5-yr survival estimates ≤50% were randomized to usual care or participation in eight 90-min, multidisciplinary interventional sessions with 30 mins of each session devoted to PT. PT consisted of truncal and limb isodynamic strengthening targeting major upper- and lower-limb muscle groups as well as education and provision with instructional materials. Physical well-being and fatigue were assessed with Linear Analog Scale of Assessment. The Profile of Mood States-Short form, including Fatigue-Inertia and Vigor-Activity subscales, was also administered.

Results:

PT session attendance was 89.3%. Relative to baseline, mean physical well-being Linear Analog Self Assessment scores at week 4 improved in the intervention group, 0.4 (SD, 23.6), and declined significantly in the control group, −10.0 (SD, 21.5) (P = 0.02). Fatigue and vigor were not significantly different between the groups. All intergroup differences had resolved at 8 and 27 wks. Baseline characteristics were not associated with the magnitude or direction of change in outcomes related to physical functioning.

Conclusions:

Delivery of a standardized resistive exercise PT intervention is feasible during outpatient radiation therapy and is associated with preserved physical well-being. However, benefits were not sustained, and fatigue was not affected.

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