Doctors at Gundersen Health System are currently conducting the second part of a two-part study examining whether exercise can prove beneficial to those receiving treatment for cancer.
While staying active is not a cure, doctors involved say they are eager to discover whether some physical activity can lessen symptoms of cancer treatment and ultimately result in less recurrence.
"We've seen information that shows physical activity not only benefits patients in terms of side effects as they go through treatment, but there's some good evidence that patients do better with their cancer overall," Dr. Kurt Oettel, a medical oncologist working on the trial, said.
The first study examined how doctors should prescribe exercise to patients undergoing cancer treatments. The results were published in the Journal of The National Comprehensive Cancer Network in October of 2017.
The study consisted mainly of surveys given out to patients and doctors. According to Oettel, it found most cancer patients want to hear what their options are when it comes to exercising during treatment, but that oncologists are uncomfortable giving advice on an exercise regiment.
The clinical trial is currently underway and requires patients getting treatment to wear a Garmin to track exercise. Once doctors can see how active a patient is, appointments are paired with a physical therapist to determine the best exercise routine for the patient.
"Side effects are lessened, their fatigue level is decreased and overall patients have a better chance," he said. However, Oettel says it is difficult to convince patients of this new approach.
"The old school philosophy is like oh, you're getting chemo you can't work, you have to sit on the couch, you should just check out," he said. "When in fact we know patients that are more active do better."
The clinical trial is still in need of patients, so anyone receiving cancer treatment at Gundersen Health System is encouraged to seek out more information by contacting the hospital.