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Physical Activity and Quality of Life in African American Cancer Survivors


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New research suggests that regular exercise may improve the well-being of African American cancer survivors, but most survivors do not meet current recommendations for physical activity. The findings were published by Jennifer Beebe-Dimmer, MPH, PhD, and colleagues in the journal Cancer.

Jennifer Beebe-Dimmer, MPH, PhD

Jennifer Beebe-Dimmer, MPH, PhD

Because regular physical activity can influence a variety of factors that affect survival after a cancer diagnosis, the American Cancer Society recommends that cancer survivors engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. African American patients have a higher likelihood of dying from most cancers than other racial or ethnic groups, and preliminary research suggests that they engage in lower levels of physical activity.

Analysis

To assess levels of physical activity in African American cancer survivors and to examine the relationship between such physical activity and health-related quality of life (physical, social, emotional, and functional well-being), Dr. Beebe-Dimmer, of the Karmanos Cancer Institute and Wayne State University in Detroit, and colleagues analyzed information from the Detroit Research on Cancer Survivors (Detroit ROCS) study. This population-based study includes African Americans diagnosed with the four most common cancers (lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers); participants complete baseline and yearly follow-up surveys on their health and health behaviors.

Results

Among the first 1,500 participants, 60% reported engaging in regular physical activity, with 24% reporting at least 150 minutes per week. There were no differences reported by sex. Prostate cancer survivors were the most likely to report participating in physical activity (28%), whereas lung cancer survivors were the least likely (18%).

KEY POINTS

  • Among the first 1,500 participants, 60% reported engaging in regular physical activity, with 24% reporting at least 150 minutes per week.
  • Prostate cancer survivors were the most likely to report participating in physical activity, whereas lung cancer survivors were the least likely.
  • Survivors who participated in regular physical activity reported higher health-related quality of life and lower depression.

Survivors reported engaging in more physical activity in the first follow-up survey, increasing from an average of 76 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity at the start of the study to 110 minutes at 1-year follow-up. At the start, one-quarter of survivors met American Cancer Society physical activity recommendations, compared with 34% at 1-year follow-up.

Survivors who reported participation in regular physical activity also reported higher health-related quality of life and lower levels of depression. Increases in the amount of physical activity between the start of the study and 1-year follow-up correlated with improvements in health-related quality of life.

“Identifying barriers to participation in regular exercise and developing interventions to reduce these barriers in African American cancer survivors will be critical for improving outcomes in this population and minimizing cancer health disparities,” concluded Dr. Beebe-Dimmer.

Disclosures: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.
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