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Exercise relieves side effects of cancer treatment


Cancer patients: Combat side effects of tumor therapies by exercise

Although chemotherapy improves the chances of survival for many cancers, the treatment is often accompanied by severe side effects such as fatigue and polyneuropathy. Exercise therapy can help reduce the sometimes severe restrictions and improve the quality of life of those affected.

Cancer therapy with severe side effects

Cancer patients mostly not only suffer from their illness, but also from the consequences of the treatment. The therapy increases the already considerable stress and often leads to chronic fatigue and exhaustion: this is also known as fatigue syndrome. In addition, many patients experience polyneuropathy, damage to the nerves. As the German Cancer Aid reports now, targeted exercise therapy training can help to reduce the sometimes severe restrictions and improve the quality of life of those affected.

Reduce discomfort from physical activity

According to the experts, recent study results - including a meta-analysis from the United States - have shown that physical activity reduces complaints more successfully than medical or psychological therapy.

"Exercise is the most suitable 'drug' for reducing fatigue syndrome," said PD Dr. Freerk Baumann, head of the Oncological Movement Medicine working group at the Center for Integrated Oncology (CIO) Cologne / Bonn.

Other experts have also pointed out in the past how effective physical activities can be for fatigue.

For example, the Society for Radiation Oncology (DEGRO) reported in an older message that exhaustion from cancer treatment can also be alleviated through exercise, among other things.

Exercise therapy helps

According to the German Cancer Aid, there is not only new knowledge in the treatment of fatigue syndrome.

“Studies also show that exercise therapy helps with chemotherapy-induced polyneuropathy (CIPN). There is no other treatment method for polyneuropathy that has been proven to have lasting effects, ”says Baumann.

"Sensorimotor training and possibly also vibration training achieve the best effects in the therapy of nerve damage, such as limited tactile sensation on the hands as well as tingling and pain in the hands and feet."

This approach is currently being pursued in a joint study by the German Sport University Cologne and the University Clinic Cologne. Initial research results support the assumption that special movement training could have an inhibitory effect on the CIPN.

Individually adapted to the patient

Despite the successes that can be achieved with targeted exercise therapy, it is difficult to create appropriate care structures for all patients.

“Therapeutic training during medical cancer therapy has to be individually adapted to the patient. This requires specially trained sports and physiotherapists, of whom there are currently not enough, ”explained the director of the CIO, Professor Dr. Michael Hallek.

"In addition, there are also spatial and financial bottlenecks in the oncological centers to purchase high-quality training equipment."

To make matters worse, in contrast to physiotherapy, sports therapy is not listed in the therapeutic products catalog, although the positive effects of sports therapy have already been well-documented scientifically.

"Here health policy is required to change this as quickly as possible," says PD Dr. Baumann. "Because if sports therapy were included in the therapeutic products catalog, it would be much easier for the cancer centers to set up appropriate movement therapy structures." (Ad)

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