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The effect of exercise on cancer-related fatigue in cancer survivors: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Authors Kessels E, Husson O, van der Feltz-Cornelis CM

Received 31 August 2017

Accepted for publication 21 November 2017

Published 9 February 2018 Volume 2018:14 Pages 479—494

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S150464

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Prof. Dr. Roumen Kirov

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder


Ellen Kessels,1,2 Olga Husson,3 Christina M van der Feltz-Cornelis1,2

1Tilburg University School of Social Sciences, Tranzo Academic Collaborative Centre “Geestdrift”, Tilburg University, 2Clinical Centre of Excellence for Body, Mind and Health, GGz Breburg, Tilburg, the Netherlands; 3The Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK

Objective: The objective of the study was to conduct systematic review and meta-analysis to establish the effect of exercise interventions on cancer-related fatigue (CRF) in cancer survivors, compared to non-exercise intervention controls.
Methods: Trials published between January 1st 2000 and August 17th 2016 were included through PubMed database search and search of references. Eligible trials compared the effect of an exercise intervention on CRF compared to non-exercise intervention controls, with CRF as primary outcome and measured by validated self-report questionnaire, in cancer survivors not receiving palliative care. We evaluated risk of bias of individual trials following Cochrane Quality criteria. We performed a random-effects meta-analysis in the low risk of bias trials with intervention type, exercise intensity, adherence, and cancer type as moderators, and also performed meta-regression analyses and a sensitivity analysis including the high risk of bias trials.
Results: Out of 274 trials, 11 met the inclusion criteria, of which six had low risk of bias. Exercise improved CRF with large effect size (Cohen’s d 0.605, 95% CI 0.235–0.975) with no significant difference between types of cancer. Aerobic exercise (Δ=1.009, CI 0.222–1.797) showed a significantly greater effect than a combination of aerobic and resistance exercises (Δ=0.341, CI 0.129–0.552). Moderator and meta-regression analyses showed high adherence yielding best improvements.
Conclusion: Exercise has a large effect on CRF in cancer survivors. Aerobic interventions with high adherence have the best result.

Keywords: exercise, cancer-related fatigue, cancer survivors, randomized clinical trials, systematic review, meta analysis

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