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Cancer patients work through depression step by step


Pancreatic cancer patients can walk their way out of depression and fatigue. A new study shows that patients who underwent an operation as part of their cancer treatment and then started a regular walking regimen experienced less fatigue than cancer survivors who did not do the walking program.

National Cancer Institute (NCI) reports that chronic fatigue affects up to 96% of the people diagnosed with cancer. As many as 50,000 are diagnosed with pancreatic or perampullary cancer. The authors of the report point out that exhaustion, depression and fatigue are so common as a side effect for cancer that these symptoms are often dismissed.

During the program, half the group was discharged with instructions which did not include walking. The other half was told to walk in increasing increments starting with 20 minutes of walking during the first month and ending with 90 to 150 minutes by the end of the three month program. Participants kept diaries chronicling their health including fatigue and depression levels.

Three months later, researchers determined that 27% of the walking group reported improvement in fatigue compared with 19% of the non-walking group. They also had less pain.

“The beauty of this program is that we're not asking for high intensity aerobics or a target heart rate,” said Theresa Yeo, PhD, MPH, MSN, associate professor nursing at the Thomas Jefferson University School of Nursing. “It's low to moderate intensity and they can sit if they need to. The don’t have to push through it if they re not feeling well that day.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Journal of the American College of Surgeons

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