Methods: Between 2011 and 2016, 231 patients diagnosed with breast cancer participated in a life-style intervention program of nutritional counseling and supervised exercise training for six months. A subset of 84 patients (age 49±9 y; curative therapy approach n=77, metastasis n=7, radiation therapy at baseline n=52; Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) 90±5) met inclusion and exclusion criteria. Parameters of cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) were compared between patients 1.) without chemotherapy, 2.) during and 3.) after chemotherapy at baseline as well as 3 and 6 months of intervention.
Results: Overall maximal exercise capacity (VO2peak) increased significantly from baseline (24.5±6.2 ml/kg/min) to 6 months (26.1±6.4 ml/kg/min; p<0.01) as was observed for maximal work load during ergometry (baseline: 122±31 Watts; 6 mo: 13±30 Watts; p<0.01). These improvements were not significantly different between groups. Patients with metastatic disease started with lower VO2peak, but improved to a similar extent as non-metastatic patients.
Conclusion: Our data reveal that exercise training improves fitness parameters in breast cancer patients independent of stage of therapy, i.e. during chemotherapy, after chemotherapy, without chemotherapy. Also patients with metastatic disease reveal similar improvements.