Evaluating an Aerobic Exercise Program Aimed at Reducing Cancer-Related Fatigue in Patients with Breast Cancer

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The second most common cancer in the world is breast cancer, which leads to the most cancer deaths in women. Women can undergo emotional and functional symptoms regardless of treatment developments that impact the quality of their life. One of the most common impairments is cancer-related fatigue, and it has been established that one intervention that can promote improvement in fatigue symptoms is physical exercise that is moderate in aerobic intensity. In patients with breast cancer who were receiving active treatment, researchers evaluated the effectiveness of an aerobic exercise program targeted at lowering cancer-related fatigue and compared the results to the standard treatment protocol.

This randomized controlled study was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of exercise in breast cancer patients suffering from cancer-related fatigue. Catania and colleagues conducted the trial at an outpatient cancer center in Genova, Italy. They used a non-probabilistic convenience sampling procedure to invite cancer patients (N = 50) to participate. The inclusion criteria for the study required that women be ≥18 years of age, have a diagnosis of breast cancer, be receiving active cancer treatment, and provide informed consent.

Using a demographic and clinical characteristics form that was developed specifically for the study, baseline demographic data were collected.

Using the Italian version of the Brief Fatigue Inventory on the day patients signed the informed consent form (T0), after 1 week (T1), and up to a maximum of 8 weeks (T2-T8), patients’ cancer-related fatigue was evaluated.

In the intervention group, the patients received an aerobic exercise card and a chart where they could record their participation in the aerobic exercise program each week. The data were collected weekly.

Out of the 50 women included in the study, 36 gave their informed consent. During the 8 weeks the study was conducted, there was evidence that the patients’ mean fatigue score showed a statistically significant decrease (P = .034).

The investigators concluded that during active chemotherapy treatment, adopting an aerobic exercise program helps decrease fatigue in patients with breast cancer. Therefore, it may be beneficial for oncology nurses to receive information and provide adequate education to patients through aerobic exercise educational tools.


Catania G, Bernard G, Principe G, et al. Effectiveness of an aerobic exercise program aimed at reducing cancer-related fatigue in patients with breast cancer in active treatment, compared to the standard treatment. Ann Oncol. 2021;32(suppl_5):S1279.

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