Treatments for early breast cancer have side effects that affect quality of life (QoL) and cause deconditioning. Physical exercise might have a supportive and coadjuvant role in the rehabilitation of breast cancer survivors. We aimed to analyse the preliminary results of a community-based supervised exercise training program on QoL and muscle strength in breast cancer survivors.
Twenty breast cancer female survivors were recruited to a single-arm clinical trial consisting of sequential 16 weeks (wk) of control phase (CP) and 16 wk intervention phase (IP). Four evaluations were carried out: M1 (8 wk on CP), M2 (immediately previous IP), M3 (8 wk CP) and M4 (16 wk IP). The IP consisted of 3 sessions per week of combined aerobic and strength exercise (60min) at moderate to vigorous exercise (65-85% of maximum heart rate or 6-8 points on OMNI scale). The primary endpoint was QoL, which was evaluated by EORTC QLQ-C30 questionnaire. Secondary endpoints included handgrip strength and sit-to-stand (STS) test.
Of the 20 recruited women, 19 initiated and 15 concluded the program, with a mean compliance to the exercise intervention of 63.6%. The median age was 59 years old (39-72). All but 3 were diagnosed with invasive carcinoma. After surgery, 13 (62%) underwent radiotherapy, 15 (71%) chemotherapy and 18 (86%) were under hormonotherapy. During the control phase, no significant differences were observed in the efficacy variables. There was no changes over time for any domain of QoL, except for physical functioning scale (p = 0.038), where it was observed a trend to increase between M2 and M3 (77.3±14.0 to 85.3±10.1, p = 0.051). A significant increase in handgrip strength of non-operated (22.2±3.9 to 25.6±5.3 kg.f, p = 0.004) and operated limb (22.6±4.7 to 26.9±6.6 kg.f, p = 0.001) was shown after exercise training. Similar results were also observed for STS test [12 (11-13.5) to 17 (13-21) repetitions, p = 0.002].
An exercise program appears to be beneficial for QoL, particularly in the physical functioning of breast cancer survivors. Moreover, it seems to have an important role on strength levels.
Clinical trial identification
Legal entity responsible for the study
Associação de Investigação e Cuidados de Suporte em Oncologia.
Liga Portuguesa Contra o Cancro.
All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.