Chemotherapy (chemical therapy) is a cytotoxic and systemic treatment that uses drugs to kill cells or slow the growth of cancer. Chemotherapy is delivered through the bloodstream, and is more effective when blood supply to tumour sites is optimised. Chemotherapy can be supplied through numerous different drugs which may be used independently or in combinations, and is administered in several different ways, including intravenously (cannula, central line, peripheral inserted central catheter or porta-a-cath); orally (tablets); injection (muscle, skin, organ or tumour); or transdermal (creams through skin).
Chemotherapy is often used as a curative treatment for primary cancer sites, local to the prostate (Stage I, IIa and IIb). Chemotherapy is also used in secondary cancer sites (Stage III and IV), often when prostate cancer has metastasised to bone to slow down tumour growth, and as an adjuvant or palliative treatment. The specific duration of chemotherapy depends on the cancer type and stage; type of medicine used; and severity of side effects or treatment success. Generally, it is given in cycles or periods of administration followed by rest and recovery and can last minutes, hours or days; be repeated weekly, bi-weekly or monthly; and can be cycled for several months.
There are numerous short-term and long-term side-effects, including:-
|Short Term Effects||Long Term Effects|
|Muscle Pain||Bone Loss|
|Cognitive Changes||Hearing Loss|
Exercise has been shown to minimise many of the side-effects encountered when undergoing Chemotherapy. Specifically, exercising during chemotherapy reduces fatigue, improves psychological wellbeing, regulates body weight and composition, prevents muscle and bone loss, and improves cognitive function. Importantly, it has been demonstrated that exercise during chemotherapy is able to improve the effectiveness of the drug, by increase vascularity and blood flow to the tumour, allowing the cytotoxic effects of chemotherapy to be more readily delivered direct to the tumour itself.
Chemotherapy does provide some challenges to you. Many of the side-effects will vary with intensity as the treatment progresses. When side-effects are more pronounced, you may need to scale-back (modify, reduce) your exercise temporarily while the transient effect of therapy is experienced. However, in collaboration with your treating physicians and accredited exercise physiologist, you should be-able to perform most, if not all, of the exercises provided in this portal in most cases. This may depend on you specific stage of disease, so always seek approval prior to commencement and through-out chemotherapy treatment.