Purpose: This study aims to evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of an 8-week supervised exercise program in de-conditioned cancer survivors within 2-6 months of chemotherapy completion.
Methods: Participants were randomly assigned to an 8-week, twice-weekly, supervised aerobic exercise training regime (n = 23) or a usual care group (n = 20). Feasibility was assessed by recruitment rate, program adherence and participant feedback. The primary outcome was aerobic fitness assessed by the Modified Bruce fitness test at baseline (0 weeks), post-intervention (8 weeks) and at 3-month follow-up. Secondary outcomes included physical activity, waist circumference, fatigue and quality of life.
Results: The recruitment rate was 81 % and adherence to the supervised exercise was 78.3 %. Meaningful differences in aerobic fitness between the exercise and usual care groups at both the 8-week [mean 3.0 mL kg(-1) min(-1) (95 % CI -1.1-7.0)] and 3-month follow-up [2.1 mL kg(-1) min(-1) (-2.3-6.6)] were found, although these differences did not achieve statistical significance (p values >0.14). Self-reported physical activity increased in the exercise group (EG) compared to the usual care group at both 8-week (p = 0.01) and 3-month follow-up (p = 0.03) and significant differences in favour of the EG were found for physical well-being at both the 8-week (p = 0.03) and 3-month follow-up (p = 0.04). Improvements in fatigue (p = 0.01), total quality of life plus fatigue (p = 0.04), and a composite physical functioning score (p = 0.01) at the 3-month follow-up were also found.
Conclusion: The PEACH trial suggests that 8 weeks of supervised aerobic exercise training was feasible and may improve aerobic fitness, fatigue and quality of life in de-conditioned cancer survivors during the early survivorship phase.
Implications for cancer survivors: Exercise interventions commenced in the early survivorship phase appear safe, feasible and may lead to improvements in QOL and fatigue.