The Institute for Prostate Cancer Research launched a series of exercise videos for people with prostate cancer in summer 2020 to help these patients design and maintain an individual exercise routine. According to Dr. Lauren Brady, a postdoctoral research fellow at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center who led the team producing the video series, physical activity can counteract the side effects of prostate cancer treatment, improving treatment-related toxicity, fatigue, stress and overall mental health.
Brady, who is part of Dr. Peter Nelson’s team at Fred Hutch and the Pacific Northwest Prostate Cancer SPORE, or Specialized Program of Research Excellence, provided some background on how the series came about and what impact the team hopes it can make.
The Institute for Prostate Cancer Research, or IPCR, holds an annual patient symposium comprising a series of talks by experts in the field. Building on enthusiasm for a "Move for Movember" event in November 2018, we held an exercise breakout session at the 2019 symposium developed by me, exercise physiologist Kelsey McFarland and IPCR's then-program manager Nola Klemfuss. Each attendee was encouraged to participate in several simple exercises, and a discussion was held on the importance of exercise as it relates to the treatment of prostate cancer. As part of this event, we asked all attendees to complete an exercise-related questionnaire. A majority of responses indicated a need for improved information around exercise and prostate cancer that would address concerns about related risks, obtaining a maximum benefit, and provide encouragement for getting started and maintaining an exercise routine. Interestingly, 91% of attendees indicated that they felt better overall after engaging in exercise.
To address attendee feedback, we approached Pfizer and were able to collaborate with their “This is Living with Cancer” program to develop a prostate cancer exercise video series to provide information and guides addressing the concerns and requests of members of the prostate cancer community.
When I agreed to participate in the exercise program I was not exercising at all. I would occasionally take walks, mostly a little more than a mile in the neighborhood and about two or at the most three times per week. At first, I increased the frequency to three and sometimes four times per week, still walking the same route of a little more than a mile. Then about the time we were directed to quarantine at home I started to walk every day and the distance was increased to two miles. Because of arthritis, I find that the two miles is about as far as I can go at this time and my consistency has remained where I am walking every day of the week.
The good news is the pants that I am now able to get into, from a size 42, are back to size 40. At the time of the video I weighed 232 pounds, and I am happy to say I am down to 220, with my clothes on.
— Jack, a patient who participated in the video series
As part of an existing collaboration with the Us TOO prostate cancer support group (Seattle chapter), headed by Marty Chakoian, we reached out to advocacy group leaders inviting men with prostate cancer and their families to participate. Further, we contacted our colleagues in Fred Hutch's Office of Community Outreach & Engagement to include their insight and expertise, particularly in discussions surrounding the disparate effect of prostate cancer on underserved communities.
Physical activity can combat the side effects of prostate cancer treatment, improving treatment-related toxicity, fatigue, stress and, indeed, overall mental health. We hope these videos will allow members of the prostate cancer community to design and maintain an individual exercise routine that suits their abilities, and needs, and provides a supportive resource for improving their overall quality of life. In addition to exercise, this video series discusses the disproportionate rate of prostate cancer in underserved communities and provides insight and information that aims to improve accessibility and understanding.
This prostate cancer video series will be available on IPCR webpage on the Fred Hutch website at fredhutch.org/prostate-exercise and on the This is Living with Cancer website. In addition to the video series, we have designed a companion exercise-based pamphlet that is downloadable in English and Spanish and provides a hard-copy resource for those who may not have access to the internet or prefer this as a medium. We are actively engaged with advocacy group leaders and leaders in the field of prostate cancer to ensure accessibility of this video series to the wider prostate cancer community.
Our overall goal is to make these videos as accessible as possible to people living with prostate cancer, providing a tangible resource that can help to improve overall quality of life. We hope the series will improve information accessibility, ease concerns around exercising safely while living with cancer, and encourage people to remain as active as possible throughout their prostate cancer journeys. During the COVID-19 pandemic, physical distancing protective measures can be isolating for people living with cancer or undergoing active treatment. We hope this video series will allow people to build safe and effective exercise into their at-home routines and help to alleviate some of the side effects of isolating with cancer during a pandemic.
We hope this project will provide further support to the prostate cancer community as we continue to work with empowered local community and patient advocacy groups to promote patient-driven research and projects that will provide long-term benefits for people living with this disease. Increased awareness of the ways in which exercise — even on a small scale — can improve treatment outcomes may be very impactful.
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