"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Exercise after breast cancer reduces health costs

April 27, 2023 – Exercise programs tailored to breast cancer patients improve quality of life but also can reduce health care costs, a brand new study finds.

The findings come from a study that will probably be presented on April 28 on the twenty fourth Annual Meeting of the American Society of Breast Surgeons and highlighted at a press conference ahead of the meeting.

In the study, greater than 240 patients with early-stage breast cancer received either a 12-week exercise program or standard care. The exercise group accomplished a 12-week personalized exercise program that met the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for cancer survivors. This included 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise similar to walking or recumbent cycling per week, and two or three 60-minute full-body workouts using free weights or resistance bands.

The intervention was related to significant improvements in quality of life, and these improvements were related to a big reduction within the variety of patients searching for medical care. Specifically, researchers found that emergency department visits decreased by 33.2%, outpatient hospital visits decreased by 21.5%, and personal practice visits decreased by 41.8%.

“All dimensions of health-related quality of life were positively affected by exercise,” said study leader Dr. Karen Wonders, founder and CEO of the Maple Tree Cancer Alliance in Dayton, Ohio, and professor of exercise physiology at Wright State University in Fairborn, Ohio.

She suggested that physical activity could possibly be used to “reduce health care costs in patients with early-stage breast cancer.”

“These results demonstrate that exercise programs are beneficial in reducing complications and emergency department visits,” said Sarah L. Blair, MD, professor and vice chair of the department of surgery at UC San Diego Health in San Diego, California, when asked to comment on the findings.

“Many of my patients ask me what they can do to improve their results,” she said. “Now I can recommend incorporating moderate exercise into their daily routine, with really noticeable benefits.”

A second study, also presented on the meeting, examined the consequences of interventions to enhance the health of breast cancer patients before surgery, also generally known as prehabilitation.

These women received a person exercise program, in addition to dietary support and counseling during chemotherapy before surgery. They improved their physical performance and quality of life in comparison with women who received standard treatment.

The pre-rehabilitation group and the usual care group were similar when it comes to physical performance initially of the study.

Those who participated within the exercise intervention maintained their functional capability (as measured by the space they may walk in 6 minutes) after each chemotherapy and surgery and significantly increased their overall activity to the extent really useful by the rules.

In contrast, the usual care groups experienced a decrease in the space they may walk in 6 minutes and a moderate increase in activity.

Although each groups suffered from greater fatigue after chemotherapy, patients within the pre-rehabilitation group recovered a lot better than those receiving standard therapy and reported higher quality of life.

“The effects of our pre-rehabilitation were very positive,” and no adversarial effects were reported, said study creator Frances Wright, MD, an associate scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, ON, Canada.

While she acknowledged that a bigger study is required to substantiate the outcomes, she said her program is being offered virtually to all women across Canada through a nonprofit organization.