Cancer Foundation supports an LIH research project promoting physical activity in cancer patients

2017 - 06 - 30

Malou Fraiture

Cancer Foundation supports an LIH research project promoting physical activity in cancer patients

The Luxembourg Cancer Foundation (Fondation Cancer) finances a project from the Sports Medicine Research Laboratory at LIH’s Department of Population Health that aims to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of motivational interviews on the level of physical activity in cancer patients.

On 28th June 2017, Dr Carlo Bock and Lucienne Thommes, President and Director of the Cancer Foundation, respectively, handed a cheque of 156,798 Euro to Prof Daniel Theisen and Dr Alexis Lion from the Sports Medicine Research Laboratory, in the presence of Mr Karl-Heinz Dick, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer of LIH. The funded project is named MIPAClux which stands for “Motivational interviewing to increase physical activity behaviour in breast, endometrial and colorectal cancer patients in the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg: a pilot randomised controlled trial."

Physical activity is a therapeutic adjuvant. It is a not only effective in the primary prevention of several cancer types, but it is also important for their treatment. Indeed, many studies published in recent years suggest a preventive role of physical activity on the risk of recurrence and death from cancer in patients under treatment. The benefits of physical activity on prognosis (e.g. cancer progression, development of new primary tumours, relapse) was shown for many cancer types including breast, endometrial and colorectal cancer.

Physical activity promotes the maintenance and development of cardiopulmonary capacity, muscle strength, bone density, flexibility and balance. It also helps to better manage body weight and reduces tiredness. In addition, it has positive psychological effects, improving sleep, increasing self-esteem and reducing depression and addiction. Therefore, physical activity contributes significantly to improving the quality of life of cancer patients.

Despite the demonstrated benefits of sports and its prescription by physicians, the participation rate in therapeutic sports courses remains generally low. Prescribing alone does not seem to be sufficient to permanently alter the behaviour of patients towards a more active lifestyle. “Motivational interviews” are an approach that uses open discussions between an advisor (e.g. a nurse with specific training in motivational interviewing) and a patient to develop the latter’s motivation in order to obtain a durable change in behaviour. Such interviews were shown to be effective in increasing the level of physical activity of patients with chronic diseases.

The project MIPAClux, led by Dr Lion, will study the feasibility and effectiveness of motivational interviews to permanently alter the behaviour of cancer patients with regard to physical activity. It will focus on patients with non-metastatic breast, colon or endometrial cancer. Two randomly selected groups of patients will be analysed: one group will receive, in parallel to their treatment, one motivational interview per week during 12 weeks, and a second group, serving as control, will only receive the treatment. Several measurements will be taken in both groups before and after the trial, and six months later. The results of this pilot study will evaluate the value of introducing motivational interviews into clinical practice.

A press release from the Cancer Foundation is available in French and German.

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From left to right: Dr Carlo Bock (President of the Cancer Foundation), Prof Daniel Theisen (Head of the Sports Medicine Research Laboratory, LIH), Dr Alexis Lion (postdoctoral researcher and project leader, Sports Medicine Research Laboratory, LIH), Dr Karl-Heinz Dick (CFAO of LIH) and Lucienne Thommes (Director of the Cancer Foundation).