Edinburgh Research Explorer

Combined exercise and nutritional rehabilitation in outpatients with incurable cancer: a systematic review

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Related Edinburgh Organisations

Open Access permissions



  • Download as Adobe PDF

    Rights statement: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

    Final published version, 430 KB, PDF document

    Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY)

Original languageEnglish
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019


PURPOSE: The optimal components for rehabilitation in patients with incurable cancer are unclear. However, principles of exercise and nutrition-based interventions used in cancer cachexia may be applied usefully to this population of cancer patients. This systematic review examines current evidence for rehabilitation combining exercise and nutritional support in patients with incurable cancer.

METHODS: MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane databases were searched. Eligible studies included patients with incurable cancer and rehabilitation programmes combining exercise and nutritional interventions. Studies of cancer survivors, curative treatments, reviews, case note reviews, protocols and abstracts were excluded. Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) criteria were applied to patient-important outcomes.

RESULTS: Of the 2424 search results, 67 abstracts were reviewed and 24 full texts examined. Eight studies (n = 685) were included comprising two randomised control trials, three prospective, one exploratory and two secondary analyses. All examined multi-modal outpatient programmes. GRADE analysis revealed moderate evidence (B) for improvements in depression and physical endurance, low-quality evidence (C) for quality of life and fatigue and very low-quality evidence (D) for overall function and nutritional status.

CONCLUSION: There are limited data for multi-modal rehabilitation programmes combining exercise and nutritional interventions in patients with incurable cancer. However, studies to date report improvements in multiple domains, most notably physical endurance and depression scores. This supports the concept that multi-modal rehabilitation incorporating principles of cachexia management may be appropriate for the wider group of patients with incurable cancer. Further, high-quality studies are needed to define the optimal approach and outcome measures.

Download statistics

No data available

ID: 81224501