Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Active Living After Cancer: Exercise Program for Underserved Breast Cancer Survivors

By: Victoria Kuhr, BA
Posted: Monday, November 29, 2021

Breast cancer survivors who participated in Active Living After Cancer, an evidence-based 12-week group physical activity program, appeared to increase their physical activity and ability to accomplish tasks necessary for daily life, according to researchers from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston. The program introduces a different low-impact exercise, cognitive/behavior skill, and survivorship resource each week to minority and medically underserved communities who have limited access to physical activity resources. A detailed report of this survivorship program was published in the journal Cancer.

“One reason this model is successful is that we focus on meeting people where they are, teaching them the skills to develop their own goals and allowing them to go at their own pace,” said senior author Karen Basen-Engquist, PhD, MD, of MD Anderson, in an institutional press release. “We need models to deliver these services to all cancer survivors, especially to people with less access.”

The program measured changes in participants’ 6-minute walk and 30-second sit-to-stand test results from baseline to program completion. These physical functioning tests measured activities essential to living an active, healthy life.

Of the 187 participants (all women with a mean age of 59.6 years) enrolled in the study, 127 completed the program between 2014 and 2017. Most of the participants (63%) were minority and/or medically underserved breast cancer survivors. Approximately 30% were White, about 30% were Black, and nearly 30% were Hispanic. Nearly half had private insurance.

The study reported that mean sit-to-stand repetitions increased 19%, from 12.5 seconds to 14.9 seconds, and mean 6-minute walk distance increased 10%, from 428 meters to 470 meters. Participants who completed a health-related quality-of-life outcomes questionnaire reported an 8% increase in physical quality of life and a 6% improvement in mental health. 

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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