25th Sep 2023
This systematic review aimed to analyze the effects of different exercise protocols on physical fitness, quality of life, cancer-related fatigue, and sleep quality in patients with different types of cancer undergoing neoadjuvant treatment. A comprehensive search of existing literature was carried out using four electronic databases: PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library (published until October 19, 2022). All databases were searched for randomized controlled trials, quasi-experimental investigations, and pre-post investigations assessing the effects of exercise in cancer patients during neoadjuvant treatment. Excluded articles included multicomponent interventions, such as exercise plus diet or behavioral therapy, and investigations performed during adjuvant treatment or survivorship. Twenty-seven trials involving 999 cancer patients were included in this review. The interventions were conducted in cancer patients undergoing neoadjuvant treatment for rectal (n = 11), breast (n = 5), pancreatic (n = 4), esophageal (n = 3), gastro-esophageal (n = 2), and prostate (n = 1) cancers, and leukemia (n = 1). Exercise interventions appeared to improve cardiorespiratory fitness, muscle strength, body composition, and quality of life, although many investigations lacked a between-group analysis. In conclusion, despite limited evidence, exercise interventions applied during neoadjuvant treatment demonstrate promising potential in enhancing cardiorespiratory fitness, muscle strength, body composition, and overall quality of life. However, a scarcity of evidence remains on the effects of exercise on cancer-related fatigue and sleep quality.