Randomized controlled trial of exercise training in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors: cardiopulmonary and quality of life outcomes

Kerry S Courneya, John R Mackey, Gordon J Bell, Lee W Jones, Catherine J Field, Adrian S Fairey
Journal of Clinical Oncology 2003 May 1, 21 (9): 1660-8

PURPOSE: To determine the effects of exercise training on cardiopulmonary function and quality of life (QOL) in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors who had completed surgery, radiotherapy, and/or chemotherapy with or without current hormone therapy use.

METHODS: Fifty-three postmenopausal breast cancer survivors were randomly assigned to an exercise (n = 25) or control (n = 28) group. The exercise group trained on cycle ergometers three times per week for 15 weeks at a power output that elicited the ventilatory equivalent for carbon dioxide. The control group did not train. The primary outcomes were changes in peak oxygen consumption and overall QOL from baseline to postintervention. Peak oxygen consumption was assessed by a graded exercise test using gas exchange analysis. Overall QOL was assessed by the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast scale.

RESULTS: Fifty-two participants completed the trial. The exercise group completed 98.4% of the exercise sessions. Baseline values for peak oxygen consumption (P =.254) and overall QOL (P =.286) did not differ between groups. Peak oxygen consumption increased by 0.24 L/min in the exercise group, whereas it decreased by 0.05 L/min in the control group (mean difference, 0.29 L/min; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.18 to 0.40; P <.001). Overall QOL increased by 9.1 points in the exercise group compared with 0.3 points in the control group (mean difference, 8.8 points; 95% CI, 3.6 to 14.0; P =.001). Pearson correlations indicated that change in peak oxygen consumption correlated with change in overall QOL (r = 0.45; P <.01).

CONCLUSION: Exercise training had beneficial effects on cardiopulmonary function and QOL in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors.

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