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Purpose. Although physical activity has been demonstrated to increase cancer survival in epidemiological studies, breast cancer patients tend toward inactivity after treatment. Methods Breast cancer patients were quasi-randomly allocated to two different groups, intervention (IG) and control (CG) groups. The intervention group (n = 111) received an individual 3-week exercise program with two additional 1-week inpatient stays after 4 and 8 months. At the end of the rehabilitation, a home-based exercise program was designed. The control group (n = 83) received a 3-week rehabilitation program and did not obtain any follow-up care. Patients from both groups were measured using questionnaires on physical activity, fatigue, and quality of life (QoL) at five time points, 4 months (t1), 8 months (t2), 12 months (t3), 18 months (t4), and 24 months (t5) after the beginning of the rehabilitation. Results After 2 years, the level of physical activity (total metabolic rate) increased significantly from 2733.16 ± 2547.95 (t0) to 4169.71 ± 3492.27 (t5) metabolic equivalent (MET)- min/week in the intervention group, but just slightly changed from 2858.38 ± 2393.79 (t0) to 2875.74 ± 2590.15 (t5) METmin/ week in the control group (means ± standard deviation). Furthermore, the internal group comparison showed significant differences after 2 years as well. These results came along with a significantly reduced fatigue syndrome and an increased health-related quality of life. Conclusions The data indicate that an individual, according to their preferences, and physical-resource-adapted exercise program has a more sustainable impact on the physical activity level in breast cancer patients than the usual care. It is suggested that the rehabilitation program should be personalized for all breast cancer patients.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

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Journal Article

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