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Can exercise stop cancer? Colon cancer survivors needed for ground-breaking clinical trial

12 March 2014

Montreal -

A Canadian-led groundbreaking study into the prevention of colon cancer recurrence could potentially change the way cancer is treated by adding exercise to standard treatments. But more participants are needed.

During Colon Cancer Awareness Month in March, the Canadian Cancer Society is encouraging colon cancer survivors to learn about the CHALLENGE clinical trial and consider participating. Contact the Society at 1 888 939-3333 or info@cis.cancer.ca for more information. For a sneak preview, watch two trial colon cancer survivors talk about why they joined the CHALLENGE trial.

“If the results of this study are positive, we would have a cheap treatment without side-effects, which would enhance both the chances of survival and the quality of life of patients,” says Dr Félix Couture, who is in charge of recruitment for the clinical trial at Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis.

The CHALLENGE study, led by the NCIC Clinical Trials Group (CTG), is a clinical trial that aims to enroll close to 1,000 high-risk colon cancer survivors who have recently completed treatment with surgery and chemotherapy. The participants will be divided at random into two groups. Both groups will be monitored closely for cancer recurrence with CT scans and surveillance colonoscopy and provided with health education materials.

In addition, the participants in one group will also work with a physical activity consultant to design an exercise program, which could include anything from walking on a treadmill to aerobics depending on their fitness and interests. The goal is for the participants to increase and maintain their level of activity by 150 minutes a week from what they were doing before the study.

Patients in the other group can exercise if they wish but are not provided with a physical activity consultant. Each participant will be followed for three years to discover whether exercise boosts survival rates.

“The CHALLENGE study is the first clinical trial in the world to test whether exercise can improve survival in patients with cancer,” says Dr Couture. “If so, this knowledge could shift the way we treat cancer by incorporating exercise into standard treatments.” The clinical trial will also study whether exercise improves quality of life for colon cancer survivors.

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in Canada. About 40% of patients with stage 3 colon cancer relapse and die from the disease.

“The Canadian Cancer Society’s support of the CHALLENGE study is essential,” says Dr Sian Bevan, Director of Research, Canadian Cancer Society. “It is challenging to secure corporate funding for a clinical trial like this where there is no financial incentive. Thanks to our donors, we are able to support this trial and others that answer important questions about cancer treatment.”

The Canadian Cancer Society provides support to the CHALLENGE study and many other clinical trials through funding to the NCIC CTG, a world leader in conducting cancer clinical trials. The Society invests $5.1 million in the NCIC CTG annually. Learn more about clinical trials at cancer.ca

About the CHALLENGE study

The trial recruited its first patient in 2009 and is global in scope, drawing participants from 20 centres across Canada as well as 26 in Australia and three in Israel. In Quebec, one hospital in Lévis offers the trial. Currently, there are about 300 patients enrolled and the trial aims to recruit 962 patients.

About the NCIC Clinical Trials Group

The NCIC Clinical Trials Group (NCIC CTG) is a cancer clinical trials cooperative group that conducts Phase I-III trials testing anti-cancer and supportive therapies across Canada and internationally. It is a national research program of the Canadian Cancer Society. The NCIC CTG’s Central Operations and Statistics Office is located at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Through our generous donors and gold standard peer-review process, the Canadian Cancer Society funds the best cancer research in Canada. Our funded researchers work in universities, hospitals and research centres across the country and are mapping new ways to change cancer forever. For more information, please visit cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333; (TTY, 1 866 786-3934).


For more information, please contact:

André Beaulieu

Spokesperson and Senior Advisor, Public Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Quebec Division

Phone: (514) 393-3444