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Exercise No Aid to Functioning With Advanced Breast Cancer

Intervention didn't increase weekly exercise or physical functioning

woman lifting weights

FRIDAY, Feb. 19, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Exercise does not appear to result in significant improvements in physical functioning in women living with advanced breast cancer, according to a study published online Feb. 12 in Cancer.

Jennifer A. Ligibel, M.D., from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues randomized (1:1) 101 patients with metastatic breast cancer to a 16-week moderate-intensity exercise intervention (48 participants) or wait-list control group (53 participants). The intervention included 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week.

The researchers note that 42 percent of participants were undergoing chemotherapy at the time of enrollment. The intervention arm had higher study attrition (14 versus eight participants; P = 0.15). There was a nonsignificant increase in the intervention arm with regard to minutes of weekly exercise (P = 0.17) and physical functioning (measured with the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire Core 30 [P = 0.23] and Bruce Ramp Treadmill test [P = 0.35]), compared with control participants.

"Participation in an exercise intervention did not appear to result in significant improvements in physical functioning in a heterogeneous group of women living with advanced breast cancer," the authors write. "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."

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