A Phase I Study Examining the Feasibility and Safety of an Aerobic Exercise Intervention in Patients With Rectal Cancer During and After Neoadjuvant Chemoradiotherapy

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To assess the feasibility and safety of an aerobic exercise intervention in patients with rectal cancer during and after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (NACRT).


A prospective, single-group design with assessments at pre-NACRT, post-NACRT, and presurgery.


The Cross Cancer Institute and University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.


18 patients with rectal cancer scheduled to receive long-course NACRT followed by definitive surgery.


Participants received a supervised moderate-intensity aerobic exercise program three days per week during six weeks of NACRT followed by an unsupervised aerobic exercise program for 150 minutes or more per week for 6–8 weeks prior to surgery.

Main Research Variables:

Eligibility rate, recruitment rate, follow-up rate, exercise adherence, serious adverse events, health-related fitness outcomes, and patient-reported outcomes.


Follow-up rates post-NACRT were 83% for health-related fitness outcomes and 94% for patient-reported outcomes. Patients attended a median of 83% of their supervised exercise sessions and completed a mean of 222 minutes per week (SD = 155) of their unsupervised exercise. No serious adverse events were observed or reported. Most health-related fitness outcomes and patient-reported outcomes declined during NACRT and recovered after NACRT.


Aerobic exercise is feasible and safe for patients with rectal cancer during and after NACRT.

Implications for Nursing:

Patients with rectal cancer are able to engage in moderateintensity aerobic exercise during NACRT.

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