Exercise during breast cancer chemotherapy

Dr Steve Fraser1, Ms Ashley Bigaran1, Professor Steve Selig2, Associate Professor Andre LaGerche3

1Institute of Physical Activity and Nutrition, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia, 2School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia, 3Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Australia

Background: Breast Cancer is the most common female malignancy in Australia. Medical advancements in breast cancer detection, diagnosis, and treatment have increased the 5 year-survival rate to 90%, so a focus on non-breast cancer related causes of morbidity and mortality have emerged. Anthracycline-chemotherapy has had considerable success in reducing tumour size, cancer recurrence and improving survival rates but significant adverse effects including reductions in VO₂peak and cardiac function.Aim: To investigate the effects of exercise training for women recently diagnosed with breast cancer undergoing anthracycline chemotherapy

Method: 20 women recently diagnosed with breast cancer were evenly split into either usual care (UC, n=10, age 49.2 ± 13.4yrs, Ht 164 ± 0.09cm, Wt 77.4 ± 19.7kg, BMI 23.5 ± 5.4) or three months of AEP led aerobic and resistance training designed to reduce the adverse effects of chemotherapy treatment (Ex, n=10, age 50.9 ± 7.4 yrs, Ht 161 ± 0.09cm, Wt 70.7 ± 23kg, BMI 21.9 ± 6.9). Key measures including cardiac function, VO₂peak, strength and cancer related fatigue were assessed pre and post intervention.

Results: Baseline VO₂peak (UC 22 ± 6.6 ml/kg/min, Ex UC 26.3 ± 6.7 ml/kg/min were below predicted values. Preliminary results suggest a decline in VO₂peak and cardiac function during chemotherapy treatment and that exercise training was able to ameliorate this. More complete data will be presented at the conference.

Significance of the findings to allied health: An Exercise Physiologist led aerobic and resistance training program was well tolerated in women recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The program appears to minimise some of the adverse effects of treatment and should be considered in the oncology setting.