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Home exercise benefits cancer survivors regardless of BMIs

According to a study published in the journal of Gynecologic Oncology, endometrial cancer survivors who adopted exercise routines and who also happen to be overweight or obese experienced similar benefits as non-obese cancer survivors. Those benefits included cardiorespiratory fitness, quality of life and mental health.

A team of researchers led by Karen Basen-Engquist, Ph.D., professor of Behavioral Science at MD Anderson, conducted a secondary analysis on a six-month longitudinal study to determine differences between obese and non-obese endometrial cancer survivors throughout the home-based exercise program. Researchers examined each participant’s exercise behavior, fitness, heart rate, blood pressure, body size and quality of life.

The study collected data from 100 endometrial cancer survivors who were at least six months post-treatment. Survivors diagnosed with Stage I, II and III endometrial cancer were assessed at the beginning of the exercise program and again at two, four and six-month touch points.

Obese cancer survivors accounted for 64% of the participants. While this group of survivors had more problematic symptoms than non-obese participants at the start of the exercise program – less active, lower fitness, poorer quality of life and higher systolic blood pressure – significant improvements were shown throughout the program.

Study results revealed survivors had improvements in physical activity, fitness and some quality of life aspects, including physical functioning, energy levels and pain.

“Exercise after cancer treatment can speed up a survivor’s recovery and improve overall health,” says Basen-Engquist.


A simple blood test that can locate gene defects associated with cancer?

Research findings from MD Anderson scientists suggest it’s possible a simple blood test could determine whether gene mutations associated with pancreatic cancer exist without the need to locate and test tumor tissue.

Research led by Raghu Kalluri, M.D., Ph.D., chair of Cancer Biology, shows that tiny particles the size of viruses called “exosomes,” which are shed by cancer cells into the blood, contain the entire genetic blueprint of cancer cells.

By decoding this genomic data and looking for deletions and mutations associated with cancer, this discovery could be translated into a test that helps physicians detect cancer and treat patients.

“In many cases, current protocols require a tumor sample to determine whether gene mutations and deletions exist and therefore determine whether the tumor itself is cancerous or benign,” Kalluri says. “To procure tumor tissue, one needs to know that a tumor exists and if so, is it accessible for sample collection or removal? Finally, there are risks and significant costs associated with surgical procedures to acquire tumor tissue.”

Researchers also learned that a person’s entire double-stranded genomic DNA can be found in exosomes, including those mutated chromosomes that cause various cancers. Furthermore, DNA derived from exosomes carried the same cancer-related genetic mutations as cancer cells taken from the tumor.

“Because different forms of cancer are associated with different chromosomal mutations, we believe analysis of exosome DNA from blood samples may help determine the presence of a cancerous tumor somewhere in the body and identify mutations without the need for a tumor sample,” adds Kalluri.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center