Exercise aids recovery in Blacktown Hospital cancer trial

Patient Rick Dunner (sitting) with Dr Vita Birzniece, Dr Teresa Lam, clinical trials manager Neeta Ready & Dr Mark McLean.

Story courtesy of Blacktown Advocate

Exercise is proving to play a strong helping hand in repairing the damages made by prostate cancer.

In a clinical trial by Blacktown Hospital’s research facility, a simple exercise program has been found to offset some of the negative side effects of the cancer treatment, aiding patients’ recovery and giving them greater quality of life, while undergoing the often harrowing treatment.

Clinical trial PhD candidate Teresa Lam said the simple routines had been monitored on 20 men with prostate cancer, with positive results.

“Taking medications and undergoing cancer treatment leads to a loss of muscle mass,” Dr Lam said.

“What we have found with this trial is that the people on the trial feel better, have better outcomes after each follow-up meeting and retain muscle mass, which would often deteriorate with cancer drugs.”

The trial involved men being treated at Blacktown Hospital.

They were monitored twice during a year of exercise to determine whether they were staying the same or improving, using the new program.

“It’s very simple things that they can do at home, and all our patients have been very willing,’’ Dr Lam said.

“Walking, light cycling and home-based weight training are the basic exercises that can vastly improve the negative side effects from all cancers.”

In the next four years, the NSW Cancer Institute estimates there will be 11,867 new cases of prostate cancer, with a survival rate of one in five.

Dr Lam believes the trial proves simple steps can go a long way in improving the quality of life for cancer patients.

“We’re hoping to set up a broad program in Blacktown Hospital that teaches patients basic exercise techniques, which require little follow-up from nurses or doctors but will improve the outcomes or side effects they face with cancer.

“This particular trial is not only effective in the fact that patients have not put on additional body fat, despite the treatment, but it’s cost effective and patients can
easily do this at home.”

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