Providing breast cancer survivors with a web-based rehabilitation program is an effective method for improving fitness and reducing the side effects of breast cancer treatment, such as pain, fatigue, loss of strength, and diminished quality of life, a study published in the journal Cancer has shown.1
Breast cancer survivors often experience physical impairments after completing treatment that negatively impact their quality of life. Studies have shown that exercise programs can improve overall and disease-free survival. Therefore, researchers sought to evaluate the effectiveness of a web-based rehabilitation program for improving fitness and musculoskeletal disorders in breast cancer survivors.
For the Telehealth System to Improve Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Survivors study (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01801527), researchers randomized 81 participants with stage I to IIIA breast cancer who had completed adjuvant therapy to usual care (n = 41) or the intervention (n = 40). The intervention was 3 web-based, exercise sessions a week for 8 weeks. Usual care was to receive printed materials.
Outcomes were measured using the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality-of-Life Questionnaire Core 30 and its breast cancer module, the Brief Pain Inventory, the handgrip dynamometer, the isometric abdominal test, the back dynamometer, the multiple sit-to-stand test, and the Piper Fatigue Scale. Measurements were obtained at baseline, 4 weeks, and 8 weeks, with a follow-up at 6 months.
Significant improvements were reported in global health status; physical, role, and cognitive functioning; and arm symptoms (all P <.01); pain severity (P =.001); and pain interference (P =.045) in the rehabilitation group vs the control group.
In addition, the intervention improved handgrip on both the affected and nonaffected sides (both P =.006), abdominal, back and lower body strength (all P <.01), and total fatigue (P <.001) in the rehabilitation group vs the control group.
Furthermore, 6-month follow-up measurements demonstrated that, with the exception of role functioning, pain severity, and nonaffected side handgrip, participants in the rehabilitation group were able to maintain the improvements they achieved with the intervention.
1. Galiano-Castillo N, Cantarero-Villaneuva I, Fernández-Lao C, et al. Telehealth system: a randomized controlled trial evaluating the impact of an internet-based exercise intervention on quality of life, pain, muscle strength, and fatigue in breast cancer survivors. Cancer. 2016;122(20):3166-3174.