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Exercise and Nutrition Programs Help Advanced Cancer Patients

Update Date: Jul 21, 2014 12:14 PM EDT

Many studies have stressed the importance of exercising and eating well in order to prevent diseases, such as obesity and diabetes. In a new study, researchers examined the effects of rehabilitation programs that include exercise, nutritional counseling and symptom management on people suffering from advanced cancer. They found that these types of palliative care programs could be highly beneficial.

"Cancer rehabilitation is a process that assists a person with a cancer diagnosis to obtain optimal physical, social, psychological and vocational functioning within the limits created by the disease and its treatment," Dr. Martin Chasen, Division of Palliative Care, élisabeth-Bruyère Hospital, Ottawa, Ontario, with coauthors wrote in the study reported in the press release.

For this study, the researchers conducted an evidence review and looked at several rehabilitation programs available throughout different hospitals in Canada. The team concluded that these rehabilitation programs improved cancer patient's symptoms, such as fatigue and physical endurance. Patients who were a part of the program also reported better mood and improved life quality.

The team stated that these programs should be offered to cancer patients early on. The program takes into account a combination of so many factors that could help the patient battle his/her cancer more effectively. The researchers concluded that advanced cancer patients would greatly benefit if cancer centers add rehabilitation services as a part of their ongoing care.

"When caring for patients, we may limit our horizons if we fail to recognize the influence of their psychological state, nutrition, physical activity, symptoms and functional status on their disease and response to therapy," the authors explained. "A truly comprehensive care program will incorporate elements that address each of these aspects. We propose that current evidence and community expectations are sufficient to encourage Canadian cancer centers to consider establishing full rehabilitation research models for patients with advanced cancer."

The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

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