Patterns of exercise and fatigue in physically active cancer survivors.

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91 Scopus citations


PURPOSE/OBJECTIVES: To examine the physical activity patterns of cancer survivors who identify themselves as athletes to assess how much exercise athletic patients with cancer engaged in during treatment; to determine how cancer-related fatigue (CRF) affects athletic patients' ability to exercise, and to determine common problems and patterns associated with CRF experienced by athletic patients. DESIGN: Cross-sectional, descriptive survey. SETTING: International. SAMPLE: 219 cancer survivors who responded to a call for subjects in four sports magazines. METHODS: Investigator-developed, mailed survey. FINDINGS: The majority of respondents were physically active before diagnosis and continued to exercise during their treatments with modifications in their activity level. Respondents exercised an average of nine hours per week. Sixty-nine percent of the respondents experienced problems with CRF during treatment, with 52% describing their CRF as affecting their whole body. Although 26% of the respondents felt most fatigued before exercise, exercise and rest were the most commonly used strategies for managing their symptoms. Patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma experienced significantly different CRF than patients with breast or prostate cancer and reported fewer benefits from exercise. CONCLUSIONS: The majority of respondents reported decreasing their activity level during treatment, but they believed that regular exercise would make them less likely to have health problems. Respondents used exercise both as an intervention to reduce CRF and as a means to have more energy. Patients with breast cancer reported more benefits from exercise than patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE: The results provide indirect support for exercise as an intervention for CRF. Further research is needed to identify the optimal type and dose of exercise, clinical variables that influence the response to exercise, and the patients who will respond most favorably to exercise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-491
Number of pages7
JournalOncology Nursing Forum
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology(nursing)


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