Pilot, randomized trial of resistance exercise during radiation therapy for head and neck cancer

Head Neck. 2013 Aug;35(8):1178-88. doi: 10.1002/hed.23118. Epub 2012 Jul 30.


Background: The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility of a randomized trial of resistance exercise in patients with head and neck cancer receiving radiation.

Methods: Fifteen patients with head and neck cancer receiving radiation were randomized to resistance exercise (using resistance bands) or control group. Resistance exercise occurred at the radiation therapy site (weeks 1-6) and home (weeks 7-12).

Results: No serious adverse events occurred related to resistance exercise. Medium to large effect size differences favoring resistance exercise versus control group were noted for perceived fatigue at 6 weeks (smaller increase in fatigue for resistance exercise group; 7.4 vs 15.4, effect size [d] = -0.64), quality of life at 6 weeks (-7.0 vs -14.4, d = 0.52), and chair rise time (seconds) at 6 and 12 weeks (-1.6 vs 0.4, d = -.63 and -1.9 vs 0.1, d = -0.60, respectively).

Conclusions: Resistance exercise is safe and feasible in patients with head and neck cancer receiving radiation; a definitive trial is warranted.

Keywords: body composition; exercise; intervention; oncology; quality of life.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Directive Counseling
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Fatigue / prevention & control
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Patient Compliance
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life
  • Resistance Training*
  • Treatment Outcome