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Arch Dis Child. 2006 Jan;91(1):47-51. Epub 2005 Sep 27.

Exercise capacity in apparently healthy survivors of cancer.

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  • 1Department of Cardiology, Giannina Gaslini Children's Hospital, Genoa, Italy.



To evaluate cardiopulmonary exercise tolerance in a large cohort of apparently healthy paediatric cancer survivors in order to determine their participation in sporting activities.


A total of 84 young (<21 years) asymptomatic childhood cancer survivors, who had been exposed to anthracyclines (mean dose 212 mg/m2) and/or chest irradiation (median dose 2000 cGy), with normal left ventricular systolic function at rest (fractional shortening >29%), and 79 healthy controls were studied. Exercise testing was performed on a treadmill ergometer. Gas exchange analysis and derived variables were measured on a breath-by-breath basis. Pulmonary functional evaluation was performed before exercise. Echocardiographic evaluation at rest was performed within one month before the exercise test.


There were no differences in exercise responses between patients and controls. In boys <13 years, mean VO2 max was slightly but significantly lower than in controls. This finding was thought to be a result of decreased physical fitness as all the other exercise parameters were similar to those in the controls.


Results show that apparently healthy survivors of paediatric cancer can take part in dynamic sporting activities if they exhibit a normal response to cardiopulmonary exercise testing, while those that exhibit a reduced VO2 max should be re-evaluated after an aerobic training programme, and should undergo tailored dynamic physical activity if the VO2 max does not normalise.

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