FRIDAY, Feb. 14, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Thoracic radiation therapy (RT) is associated with increased fatigue and dyspnea as well as decreased physical activity, according to a study presented at the Cardiovascular Care of the Oncology Patient conference organized by the American College of Cardiology and held from Feb. 14 to 16 in Washington, D.C.

Sheela Krishnan, M.D., from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues examined the associations between thoracic RT dose volume metrics, physical activity, and quality of life in 133 participants with breast cancer (81 patients) or lung cancer or mediastinal lymphoma (52 patients).

The researchers found that the median heart dose was 1.36 Gy and 8.78 Gy in breast cancer and in lung cancer or lymphoma, respectively. Over time, breast cancer participants reported a significant increase in physical activity scores and a decrease in fatigue. Immediately after RT, lung cancer and lymphoma participants reported an increase in fatigue and dyspnea, which later improved. Each 1 Gy increase in median heart dose was associated with decreased self-reported physical activity (assessed via the Godin-Shephard Leisure-Time Physical Activity Questionnaire) in the lung cancer and lymphoma group. A nonsignificant trend toward increased fatigue was seen with increasing radiation dose in the breast cancer group.

“This study suggests that when a patient is treated with thoracic radiation therapy, it can have a negative impact on their quality of life early on,” Krishnan said in a statement. “However, engaging in higher levels of physical activity before treatment may help to improve some of these symptoms over time.”

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