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MUMBAI: Aerobics, yoga therapy and physiotherapy showed a significant improvement in the quality of life of breast cancer patients who were undergoing radiotherapy, a study conducted by city doctors reveals.

49 breast cancer patients between stages 1 and 3 of the disease undergoing curative treatment were enrolled for the study at Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital. “We chose breast cancer for the study as it is one of the common most cancers,” said Dr Prasad Dandekar, head of radiation oncology at the hospital, who led the study.

36 of these patients who were undergoing radiotherapy, were put on a programme called ‘onco rehab,’ which included weeklong sessions of aerobics, physiotherapy, yoga sessions and light weights training.

Doctors found patients who were given a month long ‘onco rehab’ showed significant improvement in their quality of life. For instance, the scores for physical quality of life improved from 20.1 to 22.2 on an average. Similarly, the score of emotional quality of life improved from 19.6 and 21.

Doctors said the findings reiterate the need for including physical exercise as a part of the cancer treatment regime. “One would imagine that undergoing cancer treatment would deteriorate the quality of life, but the findings show that exercise can in fact help improve it.

In India, we do not imbibe an exercise regime culture, especially for people undergoing cancer treatment,” said Dandekar. Doctors however, did not find significant change in the social quality of life, possibly because patients did not get a chance to socialise much during their treatment.

The analysis was made using an internationally-used system called Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy (FACT). Dr Rajiv Sarin, professor, radiation oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital, Parel, who also works on improving quality of life of patients, said, results from other such studies that looked at the impact of exercise on quality of life for children and adults with various types of cancer have been quite encouraging. However, he has a word of caution. He said, “We need more robust data to know which kind of patients benefit the most and with what kind of exercises.”



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