PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FlaWalking 60 minutes or more a
week could have a positive effect on fatigue and sleep disturbance in breast
cancer patients, according to preliminary results presented by Barbara
Poniatowski, MS, RNC, AOCN, at the Oncology Nursing Society’s Sixth National
Conference on Cancer Nursing Research.
Ms. Poniatowski, an oncology clinical nurse specialist at
Greater Baltimore Medical Center, found that patients who undertook a
moderate-intensity walking program were less tired and slept better than a
control group that did not exercise more than 45 minutes per week.
Each woman in the exercise arm of the study received an
individualized walking prescription based on a 12-minute walking test. The
walking could be done at their leisure at any time and place that was
comfortable for them, she said.
The randomized study drew 120 women (average age, 52) from five
large cancer centers participating in a larger investigation of fatigue and
exercise intervention in cancer patients. All were receiving adjuvant
chemotherapy or radiation therapy during the program, which Ms. Poniatowski
conducted with Victoria Mock, DNSc, AOCN, of Johns Hopkins University School of
Nursing, principal investigator for the project.
The investigators are still analyzing results based on
diaries that all participants kept, a 19-item sleep scale, the Piper Fatigue
Scale, and the 12-minute walk test.
Fatigue, depression, and total mood disturbance all correlated
with sleep disturbance, Ms. Poniatowski said. "The greater the sleep
disturbance, the higher the fatigue level," she said.
While breast cancer patients are generally expected to be
anxious, Ms. Poniatowski reported the researchers were concerned that a
significant number did not sleep well before their treatment started.
"About 30% reported sleep quality as fairly bad or very bad at baselinebefore
they began treatment," she said. "For the clinicians, it tells us we
need to do a good initial assessment to facilitate early problem identification
and implement appropriate intervention."