Exercise trial a first for mesothelioma sufferers

Posted 10 Apr 2015.

Friday, 10 April 2015

A Western Australian cancer researcher has been awarded a $225,000 Cancer Council Western Australia Postdoctoral Fellowship to investigate how effective exercise can be in improving the lives of people living with the deadly lung cancer mesothelioma.

Dr Carolyn McIntyre from Edith Cowan University will lead a study in collaboration with Professor Gary Lee from Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and Professor Rob Newton from ECU.

The Fellowship was announced as part of the annual Cancer Council WA Research funding grants.

Mesothelioma, which is caused by exposure to asbestos, can lead to muscle loss and tiredness and poor quality of life, and kills about 15,000 people annually worldwide.

In Western Australia, 118 people lost their lives to mesothelioma in 2013, and the rate of people diagnosed with mesothelioma is considered the highest in the world with 80 men and 14 women diagnosed in 2013 (WACR Cancer Incidence and Mortality in Western Australia 2013).

Dr McIntyre said the Cancer Council Fellowship funding will be invaluable.

She said exercise has already been shown to be very effective in improving the health of patients with lung and other types of cancer, but this funding will allow a specific focus on mesothelioma patients.

“It provides the opportunity to bridge two research groups to combine expertise with the goal of finding out how we can use exercise to improve the lives of patients with mesothelioma – which has never been looked at before,” Dr McIntyre said.

“This Cancer Council WA funding is critical in allowing me to pursue research full time with the guidance of high quality mentors from two internationally renowned WA cancer research groups.”

Dr McIntyre said she is hoping that a tailored exercise program can promote muscle strength mobility and confidence in patients, which will hopefully lead to improvements in quality of life.
“Given the burden of mesothelioma in WA, this work will influence clinical practice in addressing the substantial unmet needs of this cancer population,” she said.

The Fellowship is part of $3.8 million in research funding announced by Cancer Council WA at a recent lunch sponsored by the Parmelia Hilton in Perth.

Cancer Council WA, a community funded organisation, is one of the largest funders of cancer research in the State through a peer reviewed grants scheme.

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