Improving the physical status and quality of life of women treated for breast cancer: A pilot study of a structured exercise intervention


  • The study is conducted at Royal Brisbane Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

  • Jane Turner is a Senior Lecturer; Sandi Hayes, a Post-doctoral Fellow and Hildegard Reul-Hirche, a Physiotherapist.


Background and Objectives

This pilot project assessed the acceptability of a mixed-type, moderate-intensity exercise programme following breast cancer treatment, and the impact on presence of lymphoedema, fitness, body composition, fatigue, mood and quality of life.


Ten women completed the programme and measures of fitness (sub-maximal ergometer test), body composition (bio-electrical impedance), lympoedema (bio-electrical impedance and arm circumferences), fatigue (revised Piper Fatigue Scale), mood (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), quality of life (FACT-B) and general well-being, at baseline, completion of the programme, and 6-week and 3-month follow-up.


Participation in the programme caused no adverse effect on the presence of lymphoedema. There was a trend towards reduction in fatigue and improved quality of life across the testing phases. Women rated the programme extremely favourably, citing benefits of the support of other women, trained guidance, and the opportunity to experience different types of exercise.


A mixed-type, moderate-intensity exercise program in a group format is acceptable to women following breast cancer treatment, with the potential to reduce fatigue and improve quality of life, without exacerbating or precipitating lymphoedema. This pilot work needs to be confirmed in larger randomised studies. J. Surg. Oncol. 2004;86:141–146. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.