There is something we can do to improve the chances of chemotherapy working



We’ve all come to know that chemotherapy is just a part of the cancer fight. Not always for everyone, but for a lot of people suffering from cancer. In research that aims to help chemotherapy become a more effective tool, scientists have discovered that exercising while undergoing chemotherapy treatment had tumours shrink at much faster rates than without exercising.

American researchers from the University of Pennsylvania set up a series of experiments using mice. All were injected with melanoma cells in their neck and during the following two weeks, two of the groups received the chemotherapy drug, doxorubicin in two doses while the other two received placebo injections.  Mice in one of the groups were put on exercise regimes that included walking 45 minutes a day five times a week on treadmills and wheels whereas the other group with the chemotherapy drug remained sedentary.

What the scientists found was that after two weeks, the chemotherapy receiving mice had reduced heart function, as we know is a side effect of chemotherapy in humans, and the mice exercising did not react differently in this regard. However their tumours had shrunk significantly faster than those who hadn’t been exercising.

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Joseph Libonati, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said “We looked, and the exercise didn’t do anything to the heart – it didn’t worsen it, it didn’t help it. But the tumour data — I find them actually amazing.”

He added, “If exercise helps in this way, you could potentially use a smaller dose of the drug and get fewer side effects.”

It is believed that the increased blood flow that occurs during exercise carries more of the doxorubicin to the area and therefore treatment works faster. But the risk of course is, how much will people risk to get rid of the tumour faster? Exercise may help in one regard, but could it be more dangerous as chemotherapy weakens the body’s capacity to function.

It is a big coin toss, deciding whether to do something like this so today tell us, what would you do? Would you exercise to help get rid of a tumour faster?