In contrast, patients who indicated a decreased level of physical activity at 3 years after diagnosis had a worse overall and lymphoma-specific survival compared with those who did not report a change.

Dr Pophali noted that the term “lymphoma” can include a broad range of disease. At one extreme are patients diagnosed with indolent disease who are observed and under no active treatment.

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“Most of the time these patients do not have a lot of symptoms and will be able to be active,” Dr Pophali explained.

At the other extreme are patients with very aggressive lymphoma. In this situation the disease can limit a patient’s ability to be physically active. Some treatments for lymphoma can also limit physical activity. Patients may suffer from neuropathies or have significant fatigue.

In this study, most included patients had an ECOG performance status of less than 2 and were capable of being physically active.

“That is also why we looked at activity at the 3-year time point, by which time most patients completed treatment and were able to pursue physical activity if desired,” Dr Pophali said.

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At this time, little is understood about why physical activity might affect lymphoma-specific survival.

“Our study provides more reason to look at those mechanisms in subsequent research studies,” Dr Pophali said.

There have been some reports in other cancer types suggesting that physical activity decreases overall inflammation in the body and inflammation can be a trigger for cancer. Physical activity can also stimulate your immune system, which can prevent or delay cancer occurrence or progression.


  1. Pophali P, Larson MC, Rosenthal AC, et al. The level of physical activity before and after lymphoma diagnosis impacts overall and lymphoma-specific survival. Blood. 2017;130:914(suppl).