Exercise may slow down tumour progression in breast cancer

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Published: 18 Dec 2014
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Dr José Menezes - University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada

Dr Menezes talks to ecancertv at the UICC World Cancer Congress 2014 about the benefits of exercise for women with breast cancer. As well as enhancing quality of life by reducing fatigue and depression, exercise has also been found to moderate serum concentration in the tumour microenvironment, reducing tumour inflammation and progression. 

Exercise produces a lot of benefits in women with breast cancer, including psychological effects about depression, fatigue and an overall conception of quality of life. But now we have observed the effects, the specific effects, of exercise in inflammatory biomarkers going beyond the phenomena of quality of life and addressing the molecular mechanics that exercise can produce benefits for women with breast cancer.

The benefits are specifically focussed on tumour progression and how the exercise can modulate the tumour microenvironment to reduce the concentration of inflammatory markers that are molecular that produce in the signalling pathway leading to tumour growth. We undertook a meta-analysis which is a novel mode of analysis where you can pull several results obtained from randomised controlled trials. In this sense we have alligned nearly ten studies involving women with breast cancer after successful treatment and then we pooled these effects in an analysis synthesis.

So how many patients are in the meta-analysis and how many trials?

Trials were nine, nine trials, and the sample size was 349 women.

In two arms?

No, as a whole. There specifically were 200 women in an experimental group and then the other women were allocated to control groups, specifically in conventional care or non-exercise.

So what’s the difference in the outcomes?

The differences that we found were that exercise can specifically modulate the serum concentrations of inflammatory markers including IL-6 which is one of the most important biomarkers related to tumour progression and systemic inflammation, it’s a reactive protein; IL-2, which is also linked to immunoregulatory effects in cancer patients, and also we found statistically significant differences for IL-10. The results are expected to be published next month; now we are working in preparing the last version of the manuscript.

We hope that this result will encourage the scientific sector to gain insight in their prescription and recommendation of physical activity going beyond these phenomena that it may show what is worthy about quality of life, now addressing specifically the tumour behaviour and tumour microenvironment and how exercise can stop or can contract tumour progression.