A new exercise research project is aiming at developing an effective rehabilitation programme for prostate cancer patients.
The initiative is being undertaken in the coming months by Waterford Institute of Technology and the UPMC Hillman Cancer Centre at the UPMC Whitfield Clinic in Waterford.
Funded by the Irish Research Council's employment-based programme, the project focuses on a comparison of aerobic and resistance exercise, targeted at counter-acting any adverse effects of hormone therapy among men with prostate cancer.
The principal researcher is Kira Murphy, a PhD student in exercise oncology at WIT, who plans to investigate and compare a six-month supervised exercise programme with an emphasis on resistance versus aerobic work.
Kira Murphy is from Gorey in Co Wexford and a former student of Gorey Community School who has been working as a senior radiation therapist at the UPMC centre in Waterford since she graduated from Trinity College Dublin nine years ago.
The research will be under the supervision of Dr Michael Harrison who is head of the Department of Sport and Exercise at WIT, and Dr Dayle Hacking, medical director and radiation oncologist at UPMC Whitfield.
"Exercise oncology is one of the fastest-growing domains in health-focused exercise physiology," Kira Murphy says. "The research evidence linking exercise to quality of life and to mitigating the side effects of specific cancer treatments is central to the international consensus reports."
Dr Harrison said the project covering prostate cancer will build on previous exercise oncology research at WIT relating to cancer-related fatigue.
"Ultimately, the goal of these research studies is to optimise exercise for individuals with cancer, before, during and after treatment. The research will be translated into exercise programmes such as the ExWell@WIT programme."
Ms Murphy has been working as a radiation therapist since she qualified and already has experience working with men with prostate cancer.
"The project will also deepen health-related research between WIT and UPMC as they work together to roll out innovative exercise rehabilitation programmes in the south-east," Dr Morrison said.
Dr Dayle Hacking of UPMC said the scholarship will support the health company's "global efforts to achieve better patient outcomes with evidence-based, personalised care".