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Exercise Program Enhances Quality of Life in Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients: Insights from the PREFERABLE-EFFECT Study

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Dr. Jessica Nelson
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Exercise Program Enhances Quality of Life in Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients: Insights from the PREFERABLE-EFFECT Study

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The advantages of a structured exercise program have been spotlighted once more, this time in relation to patients suffering from metastatic breast cancer. A recent study, termed the PREFERABLE-EFFECT trial, presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, brought forth substantial evidence to support the inclusion of regular physical training in the treatment regimen of these patients.

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The PREFERABLE-EFFECT Trial

The trial, led by Dr. Anne May, enrolled 357 patients and found that an exercise intervention resulted in higher health-related quality of life (HR-QoL) scores, lower fatigue scores, and improved physical fitness. The study was coordinated by the Julius Center of UMC Utrecht under the supervision of Anne May, a professor of clinical epidemiology of cancer survivorship. The patients were randomly divided into two groups, with one following the exercise program.

Impact of Exercise on Patients

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Patients who participated in the structured exercise program not only reported reduced fatigue but also improved social functioning, reduced pain, and decreased shortness of breath. Additionally, their quality of life was significantly improved, as reported by their higher HR-QoL scores. Patients also performed better on a “steep ramp test” performed on an exercise bike, indicating an improvement in physical fitness.

Exercise Recommendations and Health Policy Implications

These findings indicate that supervised exercise should be routinely recommended to patients with metastatic breast cancer. It highlights the need for policymakers and insurance companies to ensure cost coverage for exercise programs, providing accessibility to all patients. Based on these results, the researchers strongly recommend that people with metastatic breast cancer follow an exercise program supervised by a physical therapist.

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Additional Studies on Exercise and Breast Cancer

Further studies have also explored the effects of resistance training on breast cancer survivors. Although these programs did not affect the between-arms volume difference and shoulder-arm disabilities in female breast cancer survivors, a higher increase in upper limb muscular strength was associated with reduced shoulder-arm disabilities. These findings suggest that even if there are no visible changes in certain physical aspects, exercise can still provide significant benefits in terms of muscular strength and reduced disabilities.

In conclusion, the inclusion of a structured, supervised exercise program in the treatment plan for metastatic breast cancer patients can significantly improve their quality of life, reduce fatigue, and enhance physical fitness. It underscores the importance of a holistic approach towards cancer treatment, where physical activity plays a pivotal role. Policymakers and insurance companies have a crucial role to play in making these programs accessible to all patients.

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