Exercise Intervention Fails to Improve Physical Functioning in Advanced Breast Cancer

Participation in a 16-week moderate exercise intervention did not appear to improve physical functioning in women with advanced breast cancer to a significant degree, a study published in the journal Cancer has shown.1

Although it is known that exercise interventions improve fitness, functional capacity, and quality of life in patients with early-stage breast cancer, there are limited data on the benefits of exercise in patients with metastatic breast cancer.

For the study, researchers enrolled 101 women with metastatic breast cancer and randomly assigned to them 1:1 to participate in a 16-week moderate-intensity exercise intervention or a wait-list control group. Of those respondents, 42% were undergoing chemotherapy at the time of enrollment. The intervention consisted of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week. Participants were evaluated at baseline and at 16 weeks.

Results showed that there was a nonsignificant increase in weekly exercise duration (62.4 minutes vs 46.0 minutes; P = .17) and physical functioning (EORTC QLQ C30: 4.79 vs 0.93; P = .23) in the intervention group compared with those in the control.

Researchers also found a nonsignificant increase in cardiac functioning per results of a modified Bruce Ramp treadmill test (0.61 minutes vs 0.37 minutes; P = .35) in the exercise arm vs the control arm.

“Given the significant benefits of exercise in women with early-stage breast cancer, more work is needed to explore alternative interventions to determine whether exercise could help women with metastatic disease live more fully with fewer symptoms from disease and treatment,” the authors conclude.


Ligibel JA, Giobbie-Hurder A, Shockro L, et al. Randomized trial of a physical activity intervention in women with metastatic breast cancer [published online ahead of print February 12, 2016]. Cancer. doi: 10.1002/cncr.29899.
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