Reducing Toxicity with a Simple Walking Program
Nitin Ohri, MD, and his team at the Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care and Albert Einstein College of Medicine conducted a randomized clinical trial to determine if giving cancer patients daily customized step count goals as measured and guided through fitness trackers could improve their ability to tolerate concurrent chemoradiotherapy. Results from their pilot study suggested that step counts may serve as dynamic predictors of short-term hospitalization risk during chemoradiotherapy, and with his Innovative Projects in Radiation Oncology award, Dr. Ohri explored whether physical activity could also be used as a treatment.
In the clinical trial, Dr. Ohri and his team:
- Collected activity data by providing patients with a Garmin Vivofit® activity tracker to wear throughout their standard course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
- Gave patients in the experimental arm of the study customized daily step count goals, which were based on the previous day’s performance and displayed on their activity trackers.
- Examined whether the walking program increased step counts, lessened treatment-related toxicities, improved quality of life, decreased systemic inflammation and reduced the frequency of treatment interruptions.
The results to date are promising, and implementing a similar program could be an easy and relatively low cost supportive care measure that almost any clinician could incorporate into his or her practice to help improve outcomes for their patients.