The subjects for the study were referred by local oncologists and to protect their rights they were provided with informed consent before participating. In other words, what would be studied and why was explained to them and they could then decide whether they wanted to participate or decline. There was no requirement to participate and patients could stop any time that they felt uncomfortable.
It is vital that individuals who are participating in something like this are made to feel comfortable and that they are clear on the fact that they are capable of choosing to discontinue participation. It is very difficult to get honest and complete answers from people who feel as though they have been coerced into something. It is a much better choice when people are participating of their own free will and when they feel as though they are gaining something and helping others in the process.
Method and Analysis
The study used a quantitative research design that addressed statistical information collected on the participants at the beginning of the study and at the completion of it. The dependent variable was the cancer treatment, and the independent variables were the types of treatment that the patients received and the ways that they improved (cardiovascular, pulmonary, and fatigue).
It was hypothesized that exercise would help to alleviate fatigue and increase cardiovascular and pulmonary endurance in all patients to varying degrees, and that exercise is therefore beneficial in many ways to breast cancer survivors. In analyzing the data, the researchers used a one way analysis of variation (ANOVA). Before and after exercise numbers were examined and compared with one another to gauge the rates of improvement for each patient and collectively.
Findings/Conclusions and Implications
The main finding of the study was that exercise was indeed important for breast cancer survivors. All of them showed improvement in their cardiovascular and pulmonary functions and in their overall level of fatigue. Those who had surgery plus both radiation and chemotherapy showed the least improvement, but all groups did better in the end than they did in the beginning. This indicates that the idea of treating fatigue and similar problems with exercise following cancer surgery is something that is very important and should be further addressed. It appears to be a viable alternative to other methods or to doing nothing, which is what happens with many breast cancer survivors.
The study was strong in the way that it was carried out, but it was limited by the fact that there were few participants. A larger group of women, or a group of women and men would be helpful in making a determination as to how effective this type of therapy really is. Also important would be studies of this nature that are done into other types of cancers. This is something, however, that is very important to those in the nursing practice because they are the ones who can really help to educate the patients.
In the summer of 2000, researchers in Sweden and Finland published a study saying that genetics had nothing to do with cancer risk. Apparently, they used the wrong type of methodology, and what they found was actually the opposite of what was accurate. Genetics play an extremely strong role in who gets cancer. Breast cancer and prostate cancer are usually ones that seem to have the highest genetic risk. However, Neil Risch, a genetic epidemiologist at Stanford University, found in his studies that testicular cancer was actually one of the top three cancers to have genetic components (Genes, 2001).
This was something that was not previously known, and it brought to light new information about cancer. While breast cancer is the focus here, studies like Risch's (2001) show the need for continuing study into cancer so that more can be learned about it and more lives can be saved. That is often where the nursing profession comes in -- with education. People who come with questions on their health often find that they spend more time talking with nurses than with doctors. With this being the case, nurses have a great chance to discuss the benefits of exercise with breast cancer survivors and show them how important it is to their recovery and to feeling like themselves again. This feeling can go a long way toward recovery.
Berger, a. (2003). Treating fatigue in cancer patients. Oncologist, 8 (Suppl 1), 10-14.…