Mechanisms for cancer related fatigue suggest that exercise but “not too much and not too little” could be effective. This study aimed to investigate feasibility and estimate the potential effects of a walking exercise program in people with advanced cancer and fatigue.
A pilot randomized trial.
McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), Montreal, Canada.
People with advanced cancer undergoing interdisciplinary assessment and rehabilitation with a fatigue level of 4 to 10 on a visual analogue scale.
An 8-week fatigue-adapted, walking intervention, facilitated using a pedometer (STEPS), and offered at the same time as or after rehabilitation.
Measures of fatigue, physical function and well-being were administered at entry, and 8, 16 and 24 weeks. Generalized estimating equations (GEE) estimated the odds of response for people receiving the STEPS program in comparison to the odds of response in the controls (odds ratio, OR).
Twenty-six persons were randomized to three groups: during rehabilitation, after rehabilitation, and usual care. For the fatigue measures the OR for STEPS offered at any time using an intention-to-treat approach was 3.68 (95%CI: 1.05-12.88); for the physical function measures, the OR was 1.40 (95%CI: 0.41- 4.79) and 2.36 (95%CI: 0.66-8.51) for the well-being measures.
Fifty percent of eligible people were able to participate. This small trial suggests that a personalized exercise program reduces fatigue and that 100 people are needed in a full strength trial.