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Oncologist. 2011;16(1):112-20. doi: 10.1634/theoncologist.2010-0197. Epub 2011 Jan 6.

Effect of exercise training on peak oxygen consumption in patients with cancer: a meta-analysis.

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Box 3085, Department of Radiation Oncology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.

Erratum in

  • Oncologist. 2011;16(2):260.



We conducted a meta-analysis to determine the effects of supervised exercise training on peak oxygen consumption (VO(2peak)) in adults with cancer.


A literature review using Ovid MEDLINE (1950-2010), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (1991-2010), AMED (1985-2010), Embase (1988-2010), PubMed (1966-2010), Scopus (1950-2010), and Web of Science (1950-2010) was performed to identify randomized controlled trials examining the effects of supervised exercise training on measurement of VO(2peak) (via gas exchange analysis) in adults with cancer. Studies were selected using predetermined criteria, and two independent reviewers extracted data. Weighted mean differences (WMDs) were calculated using random effect models.


Six studies evaluated VO(2peak) involving a total of 571 adult cancer patients (exercise, n = 344; usual care control, n = 227). Pooled data indicated that exercise training was associated with a statistically significant increase in VO(2peak) (WMD, 2.90 ml·kg(-1)·min(-1); 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.16-4.64); however, significant heterogeneity was evident in this estimate (I(2), 87%). Usual care (control) was associated with a significant decline in VO(2peak) from baseline to postintervention (WMD, -1.02 ml·kg(-1)·min(-1); 95% CI, -1.46 to -0.58; I(2), 22%). Sensitivity analyses indicated superior improvements in VO(2peak) for studies conducted for a shorter duration (<4 months) and following the completion of adjuvant therapy (p-values < .001). Exercise training was not associated with a higher incidence of adverse events, although safety was not rigorously monitored or reported.


Supervised exercise training is associated with significant improvements in VO(2peak) following a diagnosis of early-stage cancer, with minimal adverse events.

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