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Harefuah. 2012 Feb;151(2):90-3, 127.

[Aerobic fitness and cardiorespiratory function of pediatric cancer survivors].

[Article in Hebrew]

Author information

  • 1Exercise, Nutrition and Lifestyle Clinic, The Edmond and Lily Safra Children's Hospital, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Israel.



Overall, more than 80% of children diagnosed with cancer will survive their immediate disease. This growing group of childhood cancer survivors is at an increased risk for several chronic diseases and increased mortality. Physical activity is a well-known and powerful means to reduce such complications, yet many children are not active as recommended. Furthermore, the complex treatments might adversely affect the heart and lungs, possibly limiting physical performance.


To measure aerobic fitness among childhood cancer survivors, while assessing maximal cardiac and respiratory functions.


Eighteen children (mean age 11.5 +/- 2.1 years, 50% males) who had completed medical treatment for cancer, and 16 healthy children, performed a cardiorespiratory exercise test on a bicycle ergometer until exhaustion. Peak oxygen uptake, O2 pulse and several ventilatory parameters were measured and compared between the groups.


The mean maximal load obtained by the cancer survivor group was lower than expected, compared with controls (89% +/- 19 vs. 101/% +/- 18, p = 0.055). Peak oxygen consumption was also lower, with a marginal statistical significance (33.3 +/- 7.5 vs. 38.9 +/- 9.7 ml O2/kg/min, p = 0.075), yet was significantly lower when expressed as a percent of age- and sex- appropriate norms [78% +/- 15 vs. 94% +/- 16, p = 0.0081. Cardiac and respiratory functions were normal in all children, with no between-group differences.


We conclude that aerobic fitness is lower in children who have survived cancer, with no evidence of significant cardiac or lung damage. Given the importance of regular physical activity for this at-risk population, it should be continuously encouraged, while administering a personally tailored exercise prescription.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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