Background: Physical activity has been shown to mitigate the unwanted psychological and physiological side effects of prostate cancer treatments, but sustainable exercise possibilities are limited.
Objective: Our objective was to examine whether football in a real-world setting (i.e., local football clubs) was safe and feasible in practice and could improve quality of life, mitigate decline in muscle mass and bone density, and increase fat mass in patients with prostate cancer.
Methods: In this pragmatic, multicentre, parallel randomized controlled trial, men diagnosed with prostate cancer were recruited from five Danish urological departments. Men (N = 214) diagnosed with prostate cancer were randomly allocated, using random generated lists (block size 4-8) stratified for center and androgen-deprivation therapy status, to either 1 h of football twice weekly in a local football club or to usual care, which was a 15- to 30-min telephone session covering their options for physical activity or free-of-charge rehabilitation delivered as standard in Denmark. Allocation was concealed from the trial investigator performing the randomization, but-given the nature of the intervention-this was not possible for personnel and participants. Assessments were performed at baseline, 12 weeks, and 6 months. The primary outcome was mean change difference in prostate cancer-specific quality of life at 12 weeks. Secondary outcomes were body composition, 12-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-12) physical and mental health, and safety-reported as fractures, falls, and serious adverse events.
Results: Attrition was 1 and 3% at 12 weeks, and 5% and 5% at 6 months for the usual care and football groups, respectively. Prostate cancer-specific quality of life was equal between groups at 12 weeks (mean difference + 1.9 points, 95% confidence interval [CI] -1.0-4.8; P = 0.20) and at 6 months (+ 0.5 points, 95% CI -2.8-3.8; P = 0.76). Fractures were equally distributed, with two fractures in the usual care group and one in the football group. Likewise, body composition outcomes were equal. Mental health improved after 6 months of football (mean difference + 2.7 points, 95% CI 0.8-4.6; P = 0.006).
Conclusions: In this trial, community-based football was a feasible exercise strategy for men with prostate cancer. Football did not improve prostate cancer-specific quality of life but did improve mental health; the clinical significance of this is unclear.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02430792.