Physical activity and long-term fatigue among colorectal cancer survivors - A population-based prospective study

Ruth Elisa Eyl, Melissa S.Y. Thong, Prudence R. Carr, Lina Jansen, Lena Koch-Gallenkamp, Michael Hoffmeister, Jenny Chang-Claude, Hermann Brenner, Volker Arndt

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Evidence suggests that physical activity (PA) is beneficial for reducing fatigue in colorectal cancer (CRC) survivors. However, little is known regarding long-term effects of PA on fatigue and whether pre-diagnosis PA is associated with less fatigue in the years after diagnosis. Our study aimed to investigate the association of pre- and post-diagnosis PA with long-term fatigue in CRC survivors. Methods: This study used a German population-based cohort of 1781 individuals, diagnosed with CRC in 2003-2014, and alive at five-year follow-up (5YFU). Physical activity was assessed at diagnosis and at 5YFU. Fatigue was assessed by the Fatigue Assessment Questionnaire and the EORTC Quality of Life Questionnaire-Core 30 fatigue subscale at 5YFU. Multivariable linear regression was used to explore associations between pre- and post-diagnosis PA and fatigue at 5YFU. Results: No evidence was found that pre-diagnosis PA was associated with less fatigue in long-term CRC survivors. Pre-diagnosis work-related PA and vigorous PA were even associated with higher levels of physical (Beta (ß) = 2.52, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.14-3.90; ß = 2.03, CI = 0.65-3.41), cognitive (ß = 0.17, CI = 0.05-0.28; ß = 0.13, CI = 0.01-0.25), and affective fatigue (ß = 0.26, CI = 0.07-0.46; ß = 0.21, CI = 0.02-0.40). In cross-sectional analyses, post-diagnosis PA was strongly associated with lower fatigue on all scales. Conclusions: In this study, pre-diagnosis PA does not appear to be associated with less fatigue among long-term CRC survivors. Our results support the importance of ongoing PA in long-term CRC survivors. Our findings might be used as a basis for further research on specific PA interventions to improve the long-term outcome of CRC survivors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number438
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Fatigue
  • Long-term survivorship
  • Physical activity

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