Exercise efficacy and prescription during treatment for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma: a systematic review

Dominic O’Connor*, Malcolm Brown, Martin Eatock, Richard C. Turkington, Gillian Prue

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: Surgical resection remains the only curative treatment for pancreatic cancer and is associated with significant post-operative morbidity and mortality. Patients eligible for surgery, increasingly receive neo-adjuvant therapy before surgery or adjuvant therapy afterward, inherently exposing them to toxicity. As such, optimizing physical function through exercise during treatment remains imperative to optimize quality of life either before surgery or during rehabilitation. However, current exercise efficacy and prescription in pancreatic cancer is unknown. Therefore, this study aims to summarise the published literature on exercise studies conducted in patients with pancreatic cancer undergoing treatment with a focus on determining the current prescription and progression patterns being used in this population. Methods: A systematic review of four databases identified studies evaluating the effects of exercise on aerobic fitness, muscle strength, physical function, body composition, fatigue and quality of life in participants with pancreatic cancer undergoing treatment, published up to 24 July 2020. Two reviewers independently reviewed and appraised the methodological quality of each study. Results: Twelve studies with a total of 300 participants were included. Heterogeneity of the literature prevented meta-analysis. Exercise was associated with improvements in outcomes; however, study quality was variable with the majority of studies receiving a weak rating. Conclusions: High quality evidence regarding the efficacy and prescription of exercise in pancreatic cancer is lacking. Well-designed trials, which have received feedback and input from key stakeholders prior to implementation, are required to examine the impact of exercise in pancreatic cancer on key cancer related health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number43
Number of pages17
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 09 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Pancreatic Cancer UK [grant reference: 2018RIF_12]. The funding body was not involved in the design of the study, collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, nor the writing the manuscript. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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