In a multicenter survey, patients with polycythemia vera (PV) shared their preferences and needs regarding physical activity (PA), including the frequency of PA per week and the type and location of activity. Notably, lower educational level was associated with higher levels of inactivity.

The study, which was published in the journal Cancer Medicine, surveyed 182 adult patients with PV about their disease burden and PA preferences and needs. The mean age of the cohort was 61 and 68% of patients were female. There were 57% of patients with more than 10 years of education and 48% were currently working. The mean time since diagnosis was 8 years.

Moderate-to-severe symptoms were present among 60% of patients, which most commonly included fatigue, concentration problems, and bone/muscle pain. Skin reactions, splenomegaly, tendency to bleed, and weight gain were also commonly reported symptoms.

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There were 67% of patients who reported that they would like more information about PA. Patients with a lower educational level were significantly less likely to be engaged in PA at 50% compared with 69% of patients with a higher education level (P =.021).

Patients who were currently inactive preferred PA sessions 1 to 2 times per week for a duration of 15 to 45 minutes. Patients who already exercised, preferred PA 3 to 4 times per week for a duration of 30 to 60 minutes.

The majority of patients preferred individual training at 79%, whereas 40% preferred group training. The most common location that was preferred for PA was outdoors at 79% followed by at home at 56%. There was no significant difference in training setting or location among patients who were currently active or inactive.

The authors provided recommendations for the frequency, intensity, duration, and type of exercise for patient, as well as special recommendations depending on the symptom or side effect that an individual is experiencing. For example, yoga or tai-chi was recommended for patients with fatigue or concentration problems, whereas endurance training or yoga was recommended for patients with anxiety or depression.

Felser S, Rogahn J, Hollenbach L, et al. Physical exercise recommendations for patients with polycythemia vera based on preferences identified in a large international patient survey study of the East German Study Group for Hematology and Oncology (OSHO #97). Cancer Med. Published online August 9, 2023. doi: 10.1002/cam4.6413