Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Strategy for Reducing Fatigue in Breast Cancer Survivors: Combined Exercise and Mindfulness Training

By: Noelle Cutter, PhD
Posted: Friday, February 26, 2021

In a feasibility trial published in Psycho-Oncology, breast cancer survivors appeared to benefit from a combination of exercise and mindfulness training. According to Sean P. Mullen, PhD, of Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and colleagues, this study provides an evidence-based approach to addressing chronic cancer-related fatigue in this patient population. Their results indicated that the incorporation of weekly aerobic exercise and relaxation training resulted in reducing fatigue in these cancer survivors. 

“When expanding behavioral interventions, the key is not to overwhelm participants with too much new information and to offer sufficient education, training, and resources to ensure they stick with the program,” commented Dr. Mullen in an institutional press release.

The trial included 40 women (median age of 57) with ductal carcinoma in situ or stages I to III breast cancer from Central Illinois who had completed chemotherapy within the past 5 years. Participants engaged in three 20-minute moderate-intensity exercise sessions and 20 minutes of quiet, seated rest. In addition, participants also completed three sessions of 20-minute technology-based mindfulness-based stress reduction with 20 minutes of quiet rest.

The investigators used the Piper Fatigue Scale to measure the “in the moment” level of perceived fatigue and then calculated the combined effect of guided-mindfulness relaxation and aerobic exercise. The results indicated a group effect trend where the combined group had the lowest fatigue score and the aerobics-alone group had the highest fatigue score. In determining fatigue, the Activation Deactivation Adjective Check List Energy and Tiredness subscales revealed a statistically significant (P = .04) difference in favor of the combined group in terms of both energy and tiredness over a 3-day period. 

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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