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Type of Exercise May Affect Fatigue in Patients Receiving Catabolic Steroids

Type of Exercise May Affect Fatigue in Patients Receiving Catabolic Steroids

PORTLAND, Oregon —Aerobic exercise may be more effective than
resistance exercise in reducing cancer-related fatigue among patients taking
catabolic steroids, according to a study presented at the Oncology Nursing
Society’s 26th Annual Congress, held in San Diego.

Catabolic steroids are associated with muscle breakdown, leading to
speculation that this process may contribute to fatigue. However, the
effects of exercise among patients receiving these agents have not been fully explored.

Anna Schwartz, PhD, FNP, associate professor and research scientist at
Oregon Health & Science University School of Nursing, conducted a
3-month study of the effects of different types of exercise on muscle
strength, functional ability, and fatigue among patients receiving these
agents. She reported her findings during a poster session at the meeting.

The study population included 42 newly diagnosed patients who had not yet
started chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The mean age of the participants was
47 (range, 22 to 72), and most were women (37 women and 5 men). Thirty-two
had breast cancer (stage II-IV), six had lymphoma (stage II-III), and four
had leukemia.


Patients were randomized to one of three groups: aerobic exercise,
resistance exercise, or usual care.

  • Patients in the aerobic group exercised at home 4 days a week for
    15 to 30 minutes at varying intensities.
  • The resistance exercisers worked out at home 4 days a week with
    Thera-Bands (four leg and four arm exercises at varying intensities).
  • The usual care patients, who served as controls, were instructed
    to continue with usual activities and had no restrictions placed on

Fatigue was measured every month with the Schwartz Cancer Fatigue Scale
and the Profile of Mood States (fatigue and vigor subscale). The
investigators measured muscle strength after 3 months using a one repetition
maximum test. Functional capacity was evaluated at 3 months using 12-minute
walking distances.


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