Purpose: Radiotherapy for prostate cancer (PCa) may cause unfavorable changes in fatigue, quality of life (QOL), and physical fitness. We report results from the Prostate Cancer Radiotherapy and Exercise Versus Normal Treatment study examining the effects of 24 weeks of resistance or aerobic training versus usual care on fatigue, QOL, physical fitness, body composition, prostate-specific antigen, testosterone, hemoglobin, and lipid levels in men with PCa receiving radiotherapy.
Patients and methods: Between 2003 and 2006, we conducted a randomized controlled trial in Ottawa, Canada, where 121 PCa patients initiating radiotherapy with or without androgen deprivation therapy were randomly assigned to usual care (n = 41), resistance (n = 40), or aerobic exercise (n = 40) for 24 weeks. Our primary end point was fatigue assessed by the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Fatigue scale.
Results: The follow-up assessment rate for our primary end point of fatigue was 92.6%. Median adherence to prescribed exercise was 85.5%. Mixed-model repeated measures analyses indicated both resistance (P =.010) and aerobic exercise (P = .004) mitigated fatigue over the short term. Resistance exercise also produced longer-term improvements (P = .002). Compared with usual care, resistance training improved QOL (P = .015), aerobic fitness (P = .041), upper- (P < .001) and lower-body (P < .001) strength, and triglycerides (P = .036), while preventing an increase in body fat (P = .049). Aerobic training also improved fitness (P = .052). One serious adverse event occurred in the group that performed aerobic exercise.
Conclusion: In the short term, both resistance and aerobic exercise mitigated fatigue in men with PCa receiving radiotherapy. Resistance exercise generated longer-term improvements and additional benefits for QOL, strength, triglycerides, and body fat.