Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 1697–1707 | Cite as

A randomised controlled trial comparing the effects of a 12-week supervised exercise versus usual care on outcomes in haematological cancer patients

  • Bonnie J. Furzer
  • Timothy R. Ackland
  • Karen E. Wallman
  • Anna S. Petterson
  • Sandy M. Gordon
  • Kemi E. Wright
  • David J. L. Joske
Original Article



Following treatment, haematological cancer (HEM) patients exhibit significant physical deconditioning and psychological distress. Exercise has been shown as a clinically effective and safe intervention for cancer patients, with the potential to reverse the deleterious effects following treatment. Our aim was to investigate the efficacy of a 12-week exercise rehabilitation on cancer-related fatigue (CRF) and associated outcomes in HEM patients post-treatment.


Patients with a HEM were recruited to participate in a 12-week exercise rehabilitation intervention post-treatment. Pre-, post- and follow-up assessments were conducted on outcome measures including CRF, quality of life (QoL), psychological distress, cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength (MS) and body composition. Patients were given tailored exercise programmes comprising aerobic and resistance exercises, carried out three times per week for 12 weeks in local gyms and clinics. Usual-care participants were offered a delayed, tailored 12-week exercise intervention after the initial study period.


Thirty-seven patients (49 % recruitment rate) were randomly assigned to the 12-week exercise rehabilitation (n = 18) or usual care (n = 19) with a 91 % adherence to the exercise intervention. Following the exercise programme, significant improvements were seen in CRF (p = 0.01), cardiovascular fitness (p ≤ 0.001), QoL (p ≤ 0.001), MS (p ≤ 0.001) and body composition (p = 0.001), with moderate to large effects for all primary outcomes. Patient follow-up at 24 weeks demonstrated outcome maintenance in the exercise rehabilitation group and significant improvements in outcomes in usual-care patients following participation in a delayed exercise programme. There were no adverse reactions or study withdrawals.


A 12-week exercise rehabilitation programme resulted in significant statistical (p ≤ 0.05) and clinical improvements in CRF and additional outcomes in HEM patients following treatment. Additionally, a 12-week delayed exercise programme showed similar significant improvements in patient outcomes.

Trial registration

Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12609000450213.


Fatigue Exercise Quality of life Haematological cancer Physical function Supportive care 



This work was supported, in part, by a research grant from the SolarisCare Foundation.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Research involving human participants and/or animals

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

520_2015_2955_MOESM1_ESM.jpg (44 kb)
ESM 1 Participants cardiovascular fitness ranking based on Aerobic Power Index normative values (JPEG 43 kb)
520_2015_2955_MOESM2_ESM.docx (22 kb)
ESM 2 (DOCX 21 kb)
520_2015_2955_MOESM3_ESM.doc (43 kb)
ESM 3 (DOC 43 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bonnie J. Furzer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Timothy R. Ackland
    • 1
  • Karen E. Wallman
    • 1
  • Anna S. Petterson
    • 2
    • 4
  • Sandy M. Gordon
    • 1
  • Kemi E. Wright
    • 1
  • David J. L. Joske
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  2. 2.SolarisCare Foundation Collaborative Research TeamShenton ParkAustralia
  3. 3.Haematology Care CentreSir Charles Gairdner HospitalNedlandsAustralia
  4. 4.Edith Cowan UniversityJoondalupAustralia

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