Queen's University Belfast are taking part in a global trial to test whether exercise should be prescribed to treat patients with advanced prostate cancer.
The Global Action Plan 4 Global Prostate Cancer (GAP4) will bring together 150 researchers around the world to share their expertise to improve the life chances of prostate cancer patients and is led by The Movember Foundation.
A pilot study carried out by the Edith Cowan University in Western Australia in 2016 demonstrated that high intensity training could be a powerful tool to prolong the lives of prostate cancer patients. Dr Nicolas Hart, who led the research commented: "The study was able to show that a high intensity exercise program was safe, feasible, and enjoyed by advanced prostate cancer patients, including those with bone metastases, while preserving their physical function and improving their quality of life. We are delighted that these observational findings will allow us to rigorously test whether exercise can extend patient survival using a high intensity exercise program in a worldwide study thanks to an investment of £8.84m Australian dollars (over £5.1m) from the Movember Foundation."
The global clinical trial aims to recruit 866 patients across three continents in a collaborative effort to share data and biological samples by leading scientists and clinicians to accelerate health outcomes for men with prostate cancer. Men with advanced prostate cancer will be placed on a high intensity exercise regime, tailored to their level of fitness. Researchers will work together to determine if high intensity aerobic and resistance training alongside the 'standard' psycho-social support offered to prostate cancer patients will lead to increased overall survival.
Dr Gillian Prue, who is leading the study at Queen's University Belfast, said: "We know already that physical activity plays a significant factor in maintaining our health and fitness. Exercise can help alleviate the common symptoms associated with having cancer treatment such as pain and fatigue, but we are now delighted to be working with experts around the world to not only to help men with prostate cancer feel better, but to try and actually boost survival rates. The overall aim is that exercise will be prescribed alongside traditional treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy at a global level."
Dr Suneil Jain from Queen's University added: "This is very exciting research. Many standard treatments cause side-effects including weight gain and loss of muscle bulk. High intensity interval training may make men fitter, improve their quality of life and even prolong their survival. This study is the largest of its kind ever to be performed in prostate cancer."
Queen's University have been awarded additional funding from the Health and Social Care Research and Development Division (HSC R&D) of the Public Health Agency (PHA) to target patients with advanced prostate cancer who would otherwise be excluded from the research. Dr Prue said: "High intensity training may not be suitable for all men with advanced prostate cancer, particularly among those with additional health conditions. Alongside the global intervention, in collaboration with Professor Marie Murphy an exercise scientist from Ulster University, we will develop a low intensity walking program for men who cannot participate in the Movember trial to assess the feasibility of low intensity exercise as a way to improve the quality of life and reduce symptom burden for these men." Dr Janice Bailie, Assistant Director of the HSC R&D Division of the Public Health Agency added: "This initiative represents an excellent co-funding opportunity to support the availability of the global GAP4 study to patients in Northern Ireland. It also enables those patients not suitable for participation in the main study to become involved in a program with similar potential benefits."