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Integr Cancer Ther. 2016 Jun;15(2):190-6. doi: 10.1177/1534735415600068. Epub 2015 Aug 14.

Exercise Improves Physical Function and Mental Health of Brain Cancer Survivors: Two Exploratory Case Studies.

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University of Calgary, AB, Canada Edith Cowan University, Perth, WA, Australia
Edith Cowan University, Perth, WA, Australia Capital Medical University, Beijing, PRC.
Edith Cowan University, Perth, WA, Australia.
St John of God Hospital, Subiaco, WA, Australia.


Background Malignant brain tumors are unpredictable and incurable, with 5-year survival rates less than 30%. The poor prognosis combined with intensive treatment necessitates the inclusion of complementary and supportive therapies that optimize quality of life and reduce treatment-related declines in health. Exercise therapy has been shown to be beneficial in other cancer populations, but no evidence is available for brain cancer survivors. Therefore, we report results from 2 preliminary cases. Methods Two female patients diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme and oligodendroglioma participated in a structured and supervised 12-week exercise program. The program consisted of two 1-hour resistance and aerobic exercise sessions per week and additional self-managed aerobic sessions. Outcome measures of strength, cardiovascular fitness, and several psychological indicators (depression, anxiety, and quality of life) were recorded at baseline, after 6 weeks and at the conclusion of the intervention. Results Exercise was well tolerated; both participants completed all 24 sessions and the home-based component with no adverse effects. Objective outcome measures displayed positive responses relating to reduced morbidity. Similar positive responses were found for psychological outcomes. Scores on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale showed clinically meaningful improvements in depression and total distress. Conclusion These findings provide initial evidence that, despite the difficulties associated with brain cancer treatment and survivorship, exercise may be safe and beneficial and should be considered in the overall management of patients with brain cancer.


anxiety; comprehensive cancer care; depression; exercise oncology; neuro-oncology

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