Australian researchers will do a global study on whether doctors should prescribe exercise along with traditional therapies to treat men with advanced prostate cancer.
A team at the Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre in Queensland will conduct the research, which has been dubbed the Global Action Plan 4 Global Prostate Cancer study. The Movember Foundation is funding the effort.
The goal of the study is to see whether exercise can improve prostate cancer patients’ survival worldwide. It will build on previous research showing that high-impact training helped prolong Australian patients’ lives. Edith Cowan University in Western Australia led that project in 2016.
“The study was able to show that a high-intensity exercise program was safe, feasible, and enjoyed by advanced prostate cancer patients, including those with bone metastases, while preserving their physical function and improving their quality of life,” Nicolas Hart, who led the research, said in a press release.
Researchers who conduct the global study hope to recruit 866 prostate cancer patients on three continents. Patients will be placed on a high-impact exercise regime tailored to their fitness level.
The research team wants to know if high-impact aerobic and resistance training, in conjunction with psycho-social support, can increase the survival of men who receive standard prostate cancer treatments.
“We know already that physical activity plays a significant factor in maintaining our health and fitness,” said Gillian Prue, who is leading the Queen’s University Belfast part of the study.
“Exercise can help alleviate the common symptoms associated with having cancer treatment, such as pain and fatigue, but we are now delighted to be working with experts around the world to not only help men with prostate cancer feel better, but to try to actually boost survival rates,” she said. “The overall aim is that exercise will be prescribed alongside traditional treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy at a global level.”
“This is very exciting research,” said Suneil Jain, also of Queen’s University. “Many standard treatments cause side effects, including weight gain and loss of muscle bulk. High-intensity interval training may make men fitter, improve their quality of life and even prolong their survival. This study is the largest of its kind ever to be performed in prostate cancer.”
Scientists established a link between exercise and better prostate cancer outcomes in 2015. A study found that exercise and healthy lifestyle choices could reduce the likelihood of a man developing a lethal type of prostate cancer by up to 68 percent. The exercise must be intense, however — a possibility that may be out of reach for some patients.
“High-intensity training may not be suitable for all men with advanced prostate cancer, particularly among those with additional health conditions,” Prue said.
So researchers will collaborate with Professor Marie Murphy, an exercise scientist at Ulster University, to develop “a low-intensity walking program for men who cannot participate in the Movember trial,” she said. The goal is “to assess the feasibility of low-intensity exercise as a way to improve the quality of life and reduce the symptom burden for these men,” she said.
The Movember Foundation is a non-profit organization looking at men’s health on a global scale, with the goal of preventing men from dying too young. The organization is funding the global GAP4 study with a grant of 8.84 million Australian dollars, which is about $6.7 million.
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