Purpose: Few randomized controlled trials in exercise oncology have examined survival outcomes. Here, we report an exploratory follow-up of progression-free survival (PFS) from the Healthy Exercise for Lymphoma Patients (HELP) Trial.
Methods: The HELP Trial randomized 122 lymphoma patients between 2005 and 2008 to either control (n = 62) or 12 weeks of supervised aerobic exercise (n = 60). PFS events were abstracted from medical records in 2013. In addition to the randomized comparison, we explored the effects of exercise adherence (<80 % vs. ≥80 %) and control group crossover (no vs. yes).
Results: After a median follow-up of 61 months (interquartile range 36-67), the adjusted 5-year PFS was 64.8 % for the exercise group compared with 65.0 % for the control group (Hazard ratio [HR] 1.01, 95 % CI 0.51-2.01, p = 0.98). In the secondary analysis, the adjusted 5-year PFS was 59.0 % in the control group without crossover compared with 69.2 % for the control group with crossover (HR 0.68, 95 % CI 0.22-2.06, p = 0.49), 67.7 % for the exercise group with <80 % adherence (HR 0.72, 95 % CI 0.28-1.85, p = 0.50), and 68.4 % for the exercise group with ≥80 % adherence (HR 0.70, 95 % CI 0.32-1.56, p = 0.39). In a post hoc analysis combining the three groups that received supervised exercise, the adjusted 5-year PFS for the supervised exercise groups was 68.5 % compared with 59.0 % for the group that received no supervised exercise (HR 0.70, 95 % CI 0.35-1.39, p = 0.31).
Conclusions: This exploratory follow-up of the HELP Trial suggests that supervised aerobic exercise may be associated with improved PFS in lymphoma patients. Larger trials designed to answer this question are needed.