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Jan 15

Moderate Exercise Can Improve Outcomes for Metastatic Colorectal Cancer; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute


January 19, 2017


Moderate regular exercise has been shown to improve outcomes for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer in research done at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Patients who took part in moderate daily exercise had a lower chance of their disease worsening.

In past research, regular exercise consistantly has been linked with better outcomes in non-metastatic colorectal cancer patients. This was the first study to look at the affect on metastatic patients. 

The study followed 1,231 patients being treated with chemotherapy for metastatic colorectal cancer for 3 1/2 years after they filled out questionaires on leisure time activity. Researchers found that patients who exercised 30 minutes per day had a 16% lower chance of their cancer worsening during the study period. The exercisers also had a 19% lower risk of dying from any cause.


Researchers are not sure why exercise confers benefits, although speculation is that it may be related to insulin levels. Exercise can lead to lower insulin levels.


“Patients consistently ask regarding other things to consider in addition to standard treatments, and this is the first prospective data that I am aware for the role of exercise impacting survival in a metastatic colorectal cancer population,” said Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH, clinical director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber and senior author of the study.

The research was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Gastrointestinal Cancer Symposium.