Keogh, J. W., & MacLeod, R. D. (2012). Body composition, physical fitness, functional performance, quality of life, and fatigue benefits of exercise for prostate cancer patients: a systematic review. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 43, 96–110.

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To systematically review the literature for benefits of exercise in patients with prostate cancer.

Search Strategy

Databases searched were PubMed, CINAHL, and Google Scholar.

Search keywords were exercise, physical activity, prostate cancer, and training and all word derivatives.

Studies were included if they 

  • Were full, published articles
  • Included patients with prostate cancer
  • Involved an exercise intervention of at least four weeks duration
  • Reported changes in body composition, fitness, quality of life (QOL), and/or fatigue.

Literature Evaluated

The total volume of studies retrieved and excluded was not provided. An adaptation of methods reported by Sackett was used to evaluate methodological rigor, involving six criteria. How the criteria were applied by investigators was not described.

Sample Characteristics

  • A sample of 12 studies was included, involving a total of 360 patients.
  • Study sample sizes ranged from 10 to 82 patients.
  • All patients had prostate cancer.
  • Demographics were not reported in all studies used; however, most patients were said to be Caucasian, married, and between ages 66 and 72 years.


Seven studies reported group-based exercise. The authors reported that most of these patients showed significant improvement in some QOL measures and fatigue.  Five studies reported home-based exercise. These showed no significant increase in QOL, and two of these reported significant reduction in fatigue.  Resistance, aerobic, and combined types of exercise appeared to be similarly effective. The timing of exercise interventions related to cancer treatment were not described. Comparative findings regarding changes in muscle strength and endurance were provided.


There is relatively strong to strong evidence that exercise performed a minimum of two to three days per week can significantly improve physical fitness, functional performance, and QOL and reduce fatigue in patients with prostate cancer.

The context in which the exercise was performed and type of exercise (aerobic, resistance, or combined) may mediate the magnitude of benefit derived.  Group-based exercise appeared to offer greater benefit than home-based programs in the studies included.

Nursing Implications

Findings suggested that exercise recommendations should be a part of care for survivors of prostate cancer for fitness, QOL, and fatigue benefits. Group-based activity may have greater benefit than individual home-based exercise recommendations.

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