Effectiveness of exercise-based rehabilitation on functional capacity and quality of life in head and neck cancer patients receiving chemo-radiotherapy.

Author(s): Samuel SR,  Maiya AG,  Fernandes DJ,  Guddattu V,  Saxena PUP,  Kurian JR,  Lin PJ,  Mustian KM

Journal: Support Care Cancer

Date: 2019 Oct

Major Program(s) or Research Group(s): NCORP

PubMed ID: 30919154

PMC ID: PMC6728220

Abstract: PURPOSE: Fatigue, decreased functionality, and impaired quality of life are some of the most common adverse outcomes of chemo-radiotherapy (CRT). Head and neck cancers (HNC) affect more than half a million individuals globally and its treatment takes a heavy toll on the patient, often affecting their speech, swallowing, and respiratory functions, and as a result they often develop fatigue, depression, and physical inactivity. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of exercise-based rehabilitation on functional capacity, quality of life, fatigue, hemoglobin, and platelet counts in patients with HNC on CRT. PATIENTS AND METHODS: A randomized controlled trial was conducted on 148 patients with head and neck cancer undergoing CRT to evaluate the effectiveness of exercise on functional capacity measured by the 6-min walk test, quality of life measured by the Medical Outcomes Survey Short Form 36 v2 questionnaire, fatigue by the NCCN (0-10) scale, hemoglobin, and platelets. The control group received standard physical activity recommendations while the exercise group received a structured exercise program of aerobic and active resistance exercises for a period of 11 weeks. RESULTS: There was a significant improvement in the functional capacity (p < 0.001), quality of life (p < 0.001), and prevention of worsening of fatigue (p < 0.001) in the exercise group. The blood parameters did not show a significant difference between the control group and the exercise group. CONCLUSION: Our results elucidate that an 11-week structured exercise program for HNC patients receiving CRT helps in improving their functional capacity and quality of life. It also prevents deterioration of fatigue levels in the exercise group.