Despite established benefits of exercise for women with early breast cancer, its role in metastatic disease is unknown. This study explored the i) safety and feasibility of a partially-supervised, home-based physical activity program for women with metastatic breast cancer and ii) preliminary efficacy of the intervention.
Fourteen women aged 62.2 ± 10.6 y and 3.5 ± 4.2 y after diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer were randomised to a control or intervention arm. The intervention comprised an 8-week program of 16 supervised resistance training sessions at the participant’s home and an unsupervised walking program. Safety and feasibility were determined through recruitment and retention rates, adherence and adverse events. All participants completed the six-minute walk test (6MWT) and FACIT-Fatigue at baseline and following the intervention.
Amongst 15 eligible participants, 14 consented to participate, generating a recruitment rate of 93% to the study. Adherence to the resistance and walking components of the program was 100% and 25%, respectively. No serious adverse events were reported. When the mean scores from baseline to post-intervention were compared, trends in favour of exercise over control were observed for 6MWT distance (+40 ± 23m vs. -46m ± 56m, respectively; Glass’s delta=0.154) and FACIT-Fatigue score (+5.6 ± 3.2 vs. -1.8 ± 3.9, respectively; Glass’s delta=1.92).
A partially-supervised, home-based physical activity program for women with metastatic breast cancer was feasible and did not result in any adverse events. The dose of the resistance training component was well-tolerated and achievable. In contrast, adherence and compliance to the unsupervised walking program was poor. Preliminary data suggest a physical activity program may lead to improvements in physical capacity. There is a need for future research to identify safe and optimal exercise parameters.