Purposes: Physical activity is supposed to decrease mortality of colorectal cancer (CRC) and is suggested to reduce side-effects of the disease and its treatment. However, the knowledge about the influence of exercise interventions on patients suffering from CRC and metastasized CRC (mCRC) is still sparse. One frequently observed side effect in mCRC is chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). This randomized controlled trial investigated the influence of a supervised exercise program on CIPN in mCRC.
Methods: Thirty patients (stage IV) undergoing outpatient palliative treatment including a median of 23.5 chemotherapy cycles of various regimens were randomly assigned to an intervention or control group (IG, n = 17; CG, n = 13). The IG participated in an eight-week supervised exercise program, including endurance, resistance and balance training (2×/week for 60 min) whereas the CG received written standard recommendations to obtain physical fitness. CIPN was assessed using the FACT/GOG-NTX questionnaire. Moreover, endurance capacity (6MWT), strength (h1RM) and balance (GGT-Reha) were evaluated before (t 0) and after (t 1) the intervention as well as after 4 weeks follow-up (t2).
Results: Neuropathic symptoms remained stable in the IG over time, while CIPN significantly worsened in the CG from t 0 to t 1 and t 0 to t 2. In contrast to the CG, the IG significantly improved in strength and balance function. Changes in CIPN correlated with changes in balance.
Conclusions: This is the first investigation showing positive effects of a multimodal exercise program on CIPN, balance and strength on mCRC patients in a palliative setting, thereby consequently increasing patients` quality of life. The results support earlier findings stating a positive influence of balance exercise on CIPN.
Keywords: Advanced colorectal cancer; Balance; CIPN; Exercise.