Hutch News

Study factors activity into cancer survival

Leisenring reports survivors who are at risk for an inactive lifestyle should be high priority for the development and testing of intervention approaches

April 27, 2009
Dr. Wendy Leisenring

Dr. Wendy Leisenring co-authored “Predictors of inactive lifestyle among adult survivors of childhood cancer.”

Photo by Dean Forbes

Childhood cancer survivors were less active than a sibling comparison group or an age- and sex-matched population sample, according to a new study published in the online edition of Cancer. Researchers said survivors who are at risk for an inactive lifestyle should be considered high priority for developing and testing of intervention approaches.

Dr. Wendy Leisenring, in the Center’s Cancer Prevention and Clinical Statistics program, is a co-author of the study led by Dr. Kirsten Ness, of the Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Participation in physical activity is important for childhood cancer survivors because inactivity may compound cancer/treatment-related late effects. However, some survivors may have difficulty participating in physical activity, and these individuals need to be identified so that risk-based guidelines for physical activity, tailored to specific needs, can be developed and implemented.

The objectives of the study were:

  • to document physical-activity patterns in the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS) cohort,
  • to compare the physical-activity patterns with siblings in the CCSS and with a population-based sample from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and
  • to evaluate associations between diagnosis, treatment, and personal factors in terms of the risk for an inactive lifestyle.

Percentages of participation in recommended physical activity were compared among survivors, siblings, and population norms. Generalized linear models were used to evaluate the associations between cancer diagnosis and therapy, socio-demographics, and the risk for an inactive lifestyle.

Participants included 9,301 adult survivors of childhood cancer and 2,886 siblings. Survivors were less likely than siblings (46 percent versus 52 percent) to meet physical-activity guidelines and were more likely than siblings to report an inactive lifestyle (23 percent versus 14 percent). Medulloblastoma (35 percent) and osteosarcoma (27 percent) survivors reported the highest levels of inactive lifestyle. Treatments with cranial radiation or amputation were associated with an inactive lifestyle as were being a woman, being African American, older age, lower educational attainment, underweight or obese status, smoking, and depression.

The authors said the study, “Predictors of inactive lifestyle among adult survivors of childhood cancer,” is the first to report differences among percentages of individuals who met the nationally recommended guidelines for physical activity in a large, heterogeneous cohort of cancer survivors, siblings, and a population-based comparison group.

[Adapted from a Cancer news release.]

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