Exercise promotes numerous advantages in both health and disease. Although it is well established to enhance well-being in patients with cancer, exercise is increasingly being acknowledged to improve overall survival. Preclinical studies indicate a direct effect on tumour behaviour, but human data on the effect of exercise on tumour progression is lacking.
To capture clinical data regarding the impact of a prescribed, supervised exercise program on cancer disease progression.
Retrospective cohort study of 137 matched pairs of patients being treated at a single oncology practice. All patients referred to LIFT Cancer Care Services (LIFT) supervised exercise program between 2018 and 2019 were matched with non-LIFT patients from the oncology practice database. Disease progression via staging computerized tomography scans +/- tumour markers were compared for each match. Secondary outcomes were changes in neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) and death. Results were analysed by logistical regression and adjusted for potential confounders.
Patients from the LIFT group had a 66% (OR = 0.34, 95% CI 0.19 to 0.61) decreased odds of disease progression and 76% (OR = 0.24, 95% CI 0.12 to 0.47) decreased odds of death compared with the non-LIFT group. No effect on the number of LIFT sessions on disease progression was demonstrated. The LIFT group had a mean final NLR reading 3.48 (-5.89 to -1.09) lower than the non-LIFT group.
Supervised exercise programs have the potential to significantly improve outcomes in cancer patients, due to an effect on tumour progression. This study has far reaching implications for the additional role of exercise medicine as an adjunctive low risk cancer treatment.