The Shape Of Health To Come: Customized Fitness Program Helps Endometrial Cancer Survivors
at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have developed
a customized fitness program to help survivors of endometrial cancer – or cancer of the uterus – shed pounds and keep cancer at bay. Karen Basen-Engquist, Ph.D.,
principal investigator of the five-year "Steps to Health" study and
associate professor in the Department of Behavioral Science, aims to
determine how well participants adhere to a personalized fitness plan,
motivation both for beginning and sustaining regular workouts and the
role of a support system in encouraging determination.
All endometrial cancer survivors
who are six months post treatment – from M. D. Anderson or
elsewhere – are eligible to participate in the "Steps to Health"
study, funded by the National Cancer Institute.
initial 30-minute orientation, including an electrocardiogram,
researchers will assess participants at baseline and again every two
months using a series of health and quality-of-life questionnaires, as
well as fitness tests on an exercise bike. Depending on a participant's
current physical ability, exercise physiologists and fitness
specialists then will create a customized plan for each survivor.
According to Basen-Engquist, cancer survivors' confidence following a stressful course of treatment often can be diminished.
interested in learning which factors encourage survivors to persist
with exercise and take charge of their cancer prevention for the
future," said Basen-Engquist. "As the risk for endometrial cancer is
two-to four-fold greater in obese women than the general population, we
hope that providing a personalized exercise plan for this population
will be an incentive to achieve improved physical and psychological
and her team intend to enroll 270 participants into the study, each of
whom will personally record her physical activity for six months using
a portable personal computer. Researchers will build on the body of
evidence gleaned from a five-week pilot study conducted before the
official launch of the "Steps to Health" study.
"Our team is
interested in assisting participants with the actual process of
initiating and incorporating physical activity into daily life," said
Basen-Engquist. "We hope to discover individual traits and tools that
enable certain people to stay with an exercise plan better than
to bimonthly assessments, M. D. Anderson researchers will mail
information regarding goal setting and fitness tools to all
participants and provide weekly telephone counseling.
will use social cognitive theory, which measures how individuals adopt
and maintain behavioral patterns, in developing intervention strategies
participating in the 'Steps to Health' pilot study, I developed an
increased awareness of howessential exercise really is to maintain
health," said Maureen Hughes, endometrial cancer survivor. "It is easy
to keep putting exercise off, but when I was presented with all the
information, I couldn't deny its importance for my well-being."
researchers will measure physical and biological changes in
participants, they also will evaluate self-efficacy, or survivors'
confidence that they can succeed. Researchers also plan to determine
the level of support participants need to exercise and feel successful.
the American Cancer Society, approximately 41,200 women in the United
States will be diagnosed with endometrial cancer in 2006 and
approximately 7,350 of these women will die from the disease, making it
the most commonly diagnosed cancer of the female reproductive organs.
For more information on the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, visit www.mdanderson.org.