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Fitness Tested in Endometrial Cancer Survivors

CancerWise - April 2007

In order to help survivors of endometrial (uterine) cancer lose weight and lower their risk of future health problems, researchers developed a special fitness program. Now, they will test the program to gain information about how to best help survivors adapt to and maintain exercise programs.

Purpose of study

The study aims to determine:

  • Adherence to personalized fitness plans
  • Motivation for beginning, sustaining regular workouts
  • Role of a support system in encouraging determination

“I'm most interested in learning which factors encourage survivors to persist with exercise and take charge of their health for the future,” says Karen Basen-Engquist, Ph.D., principal investigator on the five-year “Steps to Health” study and an associate professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Behavioral Science.

“As the risk for endometrial cancer is two- to four-fold greater in obese women than the general population, we hope that providing a personalized exercise plan for this population will be an incentive to achieve improved physical and psychological well-being,” she says.

Study description

Researchers hope to enroll 267 participants in the study, which involves five visits to M. D. Anderson. The initial visit lasts one hour and includes a 30-minute orientation. The other visits last two to three hours. Individual appointments can be scheduled on weekends or evenings.

One week after the first visit, a participant receives an:

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Fitness assessment on an exercise bike
  • Set of health and quality-of-life questionnaires

Depending on the participant's physical ability, exercise physiologists and fitness specialists create a customized exercise plan – often walking.

Progress is assessed at two and four months using:

  • Questionnaires
  • Fitness tests

Participants also are required to:

  • Record physical activity on portable personal computers
  • Receive information on goal setting and fitness tools
  • Receive telephone counseling

At six months, participants have a final assessment that is the same as the initial assessment.

Researchers will measure:

  • Physical and biological changes
  • Levels of confidence in success
  • Level of support needed to exercise and feel successful

Criteria

Participants must be endometrial cancer survivors who are:

  • Six months post-treatment
  • Cleared by their physician to participate
  • Not currently physically active

Participants may have been treated for cancer at M. D. Anderson or elsewhere.

Background

According to the American Cancer Society, about 41,200 women in the United States were diagnosed with endometrial cancer in 2006, making it the most commonly diagnosed cancer of the female reproductive organs. Approximately 7,350 of those died from the disease.

Endometrial cancer survivors are likely to be obese and physically inactive, putting them at risk for other health problems like diabetes or hypertension. Although obesity dramatically increases endometrial cancer risk, many survivors find it difficult to stick to exercise programs.

“Cancer survivors' confidence following a stressful course of treatment often can be diminished,” Basen-Engquist says. “But we are hoping that being diagnosed with endometrial cancer may be a teachable moment for us to help these women make lifestyle changes.”

For more information or to participate in the Steps to Health study, contact research coordinator Stacie Scruggs at (713) 745-4296.

– From staff reports

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© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center