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Feasibility of Monitoring Functional Capacity in patients undergoing treatment for Head and Neck Cancer Open Access


Other title
Aerobic Capacity
6 Minute Walk
Head and Neck Cancer
Physical Activity
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Beaudry, Rhys
Supervisor and department
Dr Margaret McNeely (Department of Physiotherapy)
Examining committee member and department
Dr John Mackey (Cross Cancer Institute)
Dr Margaret McNeely (Department of Physiotherapy/Rehabilitation Sciences)
Dr Mark Haykowsky (Department of Rehabilitation Sciences)
Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
Introduction: Functional capacity is an indicator of physical fitness and overall health. Low physical fitness has been reported across the cancer spectrum; this can be addressed through exercise interventions. Functional capacity is largely unstudied in head and neck cancer patients. Objectives: To evaluate the feasibility and safety of monitoring functional capacity in patients undergoing treatment for head and neck cancer. To assess functional capacity through the different stages of head and neck cancer treatment. Methods: A pilot, sub-study recruiting recently diagnosed head and neck cancer patients scheduled for oncologic neck dissection. A prospective cohort of subjects underwent a series of five standard 6 minute walk tests spread over the course of their treatment. Physical activity was assessed using the self-reported Godin Leisure Time Physical Activity Questionnaire at baseline and follow-up. Results: Twenty-seven subjects were screened for eligibility, 25 matched the criteria and underwent baseline testing. The planned 5 testing time points were pooled to 3 time points for analysis. 14 subjects were retained until the midpoint and 11 to follow-up. No adverse events were reported. No difference in functional capacity as assessed by the 6MWT was found between baseline and midpoint tests, or baseline and follow-up tests. Only 40% of participants at baseline were meeting American College of Sports Medicine recommendations for physical activity. Conclusions: Monitoring functional capacity in head and neck cancer patients is safe. Recruitment prior to treatment is feasible; however retaining subjects to follow-up poses a significant challenge. Steps may be taken to decrease attrition through increasing flexibility of appointments and offering incentive. A larger scale trial is needed to identify factors influencing functional capacity during head and neck cancer treatment. Interventions are required to increase physical activity and functional capacity in head and neck cancer patients.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Beaudry R., Kruger C., Liang YY., Parliament M., Haykowsky M., McNeely ML. Effect of supervised exercise on aerobic capacity in cancer survivors: Adherence and workload predict variance in effect. World Journal of Meta-Analysis, 2015 February 26; 3(1):43-53

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