The effects of physical exercise in the palliative care phase for people with advanced cancer: a systematic review with meta‑analysis

Kellie Toohey, Michael Chapman, Anne-Marie Rushby, Kat Urban, Gemma Ingham, Benjamin Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this systematic review with meta-analysis was to evaluate the safety, feasibility and effectiveness of exercise in the palliative care phase for people with advanced cancer.
Methods: Electronic databases were searched for exercise randomised controlled trials involving individuals with incurable cancer that were published prior to April 14, 2021. Meta-analyses were performed to evaluate the effects of exercise on health outcomes. Subgroup effects for exercise mode, supervision, intervention duration and cancer diagnosis were assessed.
Results: Twenty-two trials involving interventions ranging between 2 weeks and 6 months were included. Interventions comprised
of aerobic (n = 3), resistance (n = 4), mixed-mode (n = 14) and other exercise (n = 1) modalities. Cancer types consisted
of lung (n = 6), breast (n = 3), prostate (n = 2), multiple myeloma (n = 1) and mixed cancer types (n = 10). Meta-analysis of 20 RCTs involving 1840 participants showed no difference in the risk of a grade 2–4 adverse event between exercise and usual care (n = 110 adverse events (exercise: n = 66 events; usual care: n = 44 events), RD = − 0.01 (91% CI = − 0.01, 0.02);
p = 0.24). Overall median recruitment, retention and adherence rates were 56%, 80% and 69%, respectively. Meta-analysis of health outcomes showed effects in favour of exercise for quality of life, fatigue, aerobic fitness and lower-body strength (SMD range = 0.27–0.48, all p < 0.05).
Conclusions: Participants who engaged in exercise experienced an increase in quality of life, fitness and strength and a decrease in fatigue.
Implications for Cancer Survivors: Physical activity programs were found to be safe and feasible for people with advanced cancer in the palliative care phase.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jan 2022

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