Thursday, 28 May 2015

In focus: exercise regime boosts mesothelioma fight

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Mesothelioma, which is caused by exposure to asbestos, is an aggressive cancer affecting the membrane lining of the lungs and abdomen. Mesothelioma, which is caused by exposure to asbestos, is an aggressive cancer affecting the membrane lining of the lungs and abdomen.

AS PART of ASMR's Australian Medical Research Week (May 28-June 5) ScienceNetwork WA asked a number of local institutions to talk about some of their medical research through a five-part series. Today Cancer Council Western Australia delves into the link between exercise and battling mesothelioma.

A Western Australian cancer researcher is investigating how effective exercise can be improving the lives of people living with the deadly lung cancer mesothelioma.

Edith Cowan University scientist Dr Carolyn McIntyre will lead a three-year study in collaboration with Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital Professor Gary Lee who is an internationally renowned authority in mesothelioma; and Professor Rob Newton, an expert in exercise as medicine for cancer, also from ECU.

Dr McIntyre says exercise has already been shown to be very effective in improving the health of patients with lung and other types of cancer, but new funding from Cancer Council WA will allow a specific focus on mesothelioma patients.

“Despite medical advances, mesothelioma remains an incurable cancer with no significant improvement in patient survival in the past few decades,” Dr McIntyre says.

“We are hoping to show that a tailored exercise program can promote muscle strength mobility and confidence in patients, which will hopefully lead to improvements in quality of life.”

The exercise program will run from six to eight weeks, with patients performing supervised exercise sessions two to three times per week.

Dr McIntyre says the Cancer Council WA Fellowship funding, worth $225,000, will be invaluable.

Funding bridges mesothelioma and exercise science 

“It provides the opportunity to bridge two research groups to combine expertise with the goal of find out how we can use exercise to improve the lives of patients with mesothelioma—which has never been looked at before,” Dr McIntyre says.

“This Cancer Council WA funding is critical in allowing me to pursue research full time with the guidance of high quality mentors from two internationally renowned WA cancer research groups.”

Mesothelioma, which is caused by exposure to asbestos, is an aggressive cancer affecting the membrane lining of the lungs and abdomen.

It can lead to muscle loss, tiredness and poor quality of life, and kills about 15,000 people annually worldwide.

In 2013, 118 West Australians lost their lives to the disease with a further 80 men and 14 women diagnosed—the highest in the world per capita.

“Given the burden of mesothelioma in WA, this work will influence clinical practice in addressing the substantial unmet needs of this cancer population,” Dr McIntyre says.

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