Physical activity may improve survival among patients with lymphoma, according to the results of a study presented at the 59th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.1 The observational study showed that increasing physical activity not only decreased patients’ risk for death from all causes, but decreased the risk of lymphoma-specific mortality.

“We found that, in addition to improving quality of life and decreasing mortality from cardiac issues, there is some potential for exercise to decrease the risk from death from lymphoma itself,” Priyanka Pophali, MBBS, a hematologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told Cancer Therapy Advisor. “That means exercise is something people should strive to do overall, before they are diagnosed with something like lymphoma, and even if they are diagnosed at later time.”

According to Dr Pophali, physical activity is recommended for all cancer survivors based on evidence from studies of various solid tumors showing that activity has an effect on quality of life and overall survival.

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“Studies show that physical activity in lymphoma patients improves quality of life, but we were curious if there was evidence to recommend physical activity as a way to improve survival,” Dr Pophali said.

The study included 4087 patients enrolled within 9 months of a lymphoma diagnosis at the Mayo Clinic between 2002 and 2012. The researchers evaluated physical activity in 3 ways: first, patients reported their usual level of mild, moderate, and strenuous physical activity during most of their adult life at baseline and again at 3 years. The authors used this information to calculate a Godin Leisure Score Index, a validated tool for measuring physical activity in patients with cancer. At 3 years’ follow-up, patients self-reported change in physical activity since diagnosis as an increase, decrease, or no change.

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Patients with a higher level of activity prior to diagnosis had significantly better overall and lymphoma-specific survival compared with those who were less physically active. Patients who increased their level of physical activity after their diagnosis had, furthermore, significantly better overall and lymphoma-specific survival rates compared with those who were less physically active.