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Medsurg Nurs. 2009 May-Jun;18(3):174-80.

Treatment-related fatigue and exercise in patients with cancer: a systematic review.

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SwedishAmerican Health System, Rockford, IL, USA.



The purpose of this systematic review was to determine if patients receiving treatment for cancer experienced less treatment-related fatigue if they participated in a regular committed exercise regimen, compared to those who did not exercise regularly.


What is the relationship between treatment-related fatigue and exercise during chemotherapy and/or radiation?


A systematic review of 19 English-language studies from the United States, Europe, and Australia, conducted between January 2000 and October 2006, investigating the effect of exercise on chemotherapy and/or radiation-related fatigue was completed. Included in the review were randomized controlled trials, pilot studies, and secondary analysis of previously reported studies such as systematic reviews. Ten studies that fit the preestablished criteria were retained for the review. The Priority Symptom Management (PRISM) system developed by the Oncology Nursing Society was used for leveling evidence.


Eight of the ten studies showed regular committed exercise resulted in less fatigue among the experimental group participating in exercise programs. A limitation common to the studies included in this review was the lack of a universal definition for fatigue, and therefore, the lack of a universal measuring instrument to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions.


There is evidence to include an individualized exercise program for patients on chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Studies showed no adverse effects of exercise such as increased fatigue or falls.

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[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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