“Deborah agreed to take part in a trial as she was keen to help other cancer patients in the future. "If taking part in a trial means others might be helped then I’m very happy with that."
A trial of exercise therapy for women having treatment for breast cancer
This trial looked at the benefit of exercise therapy for women having treatment for early stage breast cancer. This trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.
Doctors and breast care nurses hoped that exercise would help improve quality of life and reduce feelings of fatigue, anxiety and depression for women having treatment for early stage breast cancer. A small pilot study had showed promising results, but a larger trial was needed to get more reliable results.
This trial recruited women who were having either chemotherapy or radiotherapy after surgery for early stage breast cancer. The research team looked at how the treatment affected people physically, mentally and emotionally.
The aim of the trial was to find out if it is helpful for women to follow an exercise programme while they are having treatment for breast cancer.
Summary of results
The research team found that exercise did provide a benefit for women having treatment for early stage breast cancer.
This trial recruited 203 women and they were randomised into one of two groups. There were
- 101 women in the exercise group, and
- 102 women in the ‘control’ group
Those in the exercise group did a 45 minute supervised group exercise session twice a week, and were encouraged to exercise once more each week at home. The research team looked at factors such as
- Quality of life
- Fitness levels and shoulder mobility
- Body mass index (BMI)
They assessed the women taking part at the start of the trial, at 12 weeks and again at 6 months.
They found that in the group who took part in the exercise classes there were improvements in many areas, but not all. At twelve weeks they saw an improvement in fitness levels, shoulder mobility and mood. Six months later this was still the case, but at this point there was also an improvement in quality of life relating to breast cancer. This means fatigue and hormonal symptoms, for example. Although there was a positive trend when they assessed overall quality of life, this was not significant in statistical terms
The research team concluded that exercise provided a functional and psychological benefit. And they advise doctors to encourage their patients to exercise.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Professor Nanette Mutrie
Cancer Research UK
This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/03/027.