March 3, 2013 — A Canadian-led groundbreaking study into the prevention of colon cancer recurrence could potentially change the way cancer is treated by adding exercise to standard treatments. But more participants are needed.
"Is it possible that exercise can prevent cancer from recurring? That's
what we're hoping to discover in the Challenge trial," said lead
researcher Dr. Chris Booth, an oncologist at Kingston General Hospital
and associate professor at Queen's University. "This study has the
potential to improve both survival and quality of life for survivors of
colon cancer. It is an example of world-leading research that is funded
by the Canadian Cancer Society."
The Challenge study, led by the
NCIC Clinical Trials Group (CTG), is a clinical trial that aims to
enroll close to 1,000 high-risk colon cancer survivors who have recently
completed treatment with surgery and chemotherapy. The participants
will be divided at random into two groups. Both groups will be monitored
closely for cancer recurrence with CT scans and surveillance
colonoscopy and provided with health education materials.
addition, the participants in one group will also work with a physical
activity consultant to design an exercise program, which could include
anything from walking on a treadmill to aerobics depending on their
fitness and interests. The goal is for the participants to increase and
maintain their level of activity by 150 minutes a week from what they
were doing before the study.
Patients in the other group can
exercise if they wish but are not provided with a physical activity
consultant. Each participant will be followed for three years to
discover whether exercise boosts survival rates.
study is the first clinical trial in the world to test whether exercise
can improve survival in patients with cancer," said Booth. "If so, this
knowledge could shift the way we treat cancer by incorporating exercise
into standard treatments. With few negative side effects and many other
health benefits, we think that structured exercise programs would offer
an important and cost-effective treatment approach."
The clinical trial will also study whether exercise improves quality of life for colon cancer survivors.
cancer is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of
cancer death in Canada. About 40 per cent of patients with stage 3 colon
cancer relapse and die from the disease.
"The Canadian Cancer
Society's support of the Challenge study is essential," said Dr. Sian
Bevan, director of research, Canadian Cancer Society. "It is challenging
to secure corporate funding for a clinical trial like this where there
is no financial incentive. Thanks to our donors, we are able to support
this trial and others that answer important questions about cancer
During Colon Cancer Awareness Month in March, the
Canadian Cancer Society is encouraging colon cancer survivors to learn
about the Challenge clinical trial and consider participating. Contact
the Society at 1 888 939-3333 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more
The Canadian Cancer Society provides support to the
Challenge study and many other clinical trials through funding to the
NCIC CTG, a world leader in conducting cancer clinical trials. The
Society invests $5.1 million in the NCIC CTG annually.
Challenge trial participant story
Bogstad is an 80-year-old Kingston resident who was diagnosed with
colon cancer in 2008. She completed surgery and chemotherapy treatments
in 2009 and has been participating in the Challenge trial since 2010.
a participant, Bogstad has regular CT scans and colonoscopy. She also
works with a Challenge study physiotherapist who designed an exercise
program for her.
"Participating in the clinical trial motivates
me to continue with my regular exercise routine and healthy living. It
makes me more accountable and more committed to living a balanced life,"
said Bogstad. "I hope that the research will prove that regular
exercise and a balanced diet have tremendous health benefits, at any
age. More importantly, I hope that it will prove that fitness can help
keep cancer away."
The Challenge trial recruited its first
patient in 2009 and is global in scope, drawing participants from 20
centres across Canada as well as 26 in Australia and three in Israel.
Ontario, the sites include cancer centres in Kingston, Ottawa, London,
Hamilton, St. Catharines, Waterloo, Mississauga, Newmarket and Toronto.
Currently, there are about 300 patients enrolled and the trial aims to
recruit 962 patients.
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