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Long-Time Survivors 'RENEWed'

Conquest - Spring 2009

A home-based program to improve exercise and diet led to significant, clinically meaningful improvement in body weight and physical function among older long-term cancer survivors.

Preliminary findings from the RENEW (Reach-out to ENhancE Wellness) trial were presented by Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Ph.D., at the seventh annual American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Conference.

Trial participants were 65 or older; had been diagnosed with breast, prostate or colorectal cancer at least five years prior with no evidence of recurrence; were overweight or obese; and had no medical conditions prohibiting moderate exercise.

The group was divided into 319 survivors who received an intervention and 322 who were placed on a waiting list. The intervention group participated in 15 telephone counseling sessions with a personal trainer and worked toward establishing several daily goals:

  • Performing lower-body strength exercises
  • Walking 30 minutes
  • Using portion-control plates, cups and bowls
  • Consuming fewer than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat
  • Eating more fruits and vegetables

At the end of the year, the group showed improvements in their diet and exercise habits and improved physical function scores. Most significant were notable strength improvements in the participants’ legs and lower body.

“These findings are significant as the survivors who participated in the program had much better ability to stand up, walk and function on their own, and enjoyed better quality of life. These functions are critical in retaining independence,” says Demark-Wahnefried, professor in M. D. Anderson’s Department of Behavioral Science. “We’re now following up with the participants to see if the effect is sustained and delivering the intervention to those in the wait-listed group.”

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center