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01.03.2018 | Original Article | Ausgabe 3/2018

Supportive Care in Cancer 3/2018

Enhancing an oncologist’s recommendation to exercise to manage fatigue levels in breast cancer patients: a randomized controlled trial

Supportive Care in Cancer > Ausgabe 3/2018
Kerri M. Winters-Stone, Esther L. Moe, Cynthia K. Perry, Mary Medysky, Rodney Pommier, John Vetto, Arpana Naik



Fatigue is a troublesome symptom for breast cancer patients, which might be mitigated with exercise. Cancer patients often prefer their oncologist recommend an exercise program, yet a recommendation alone may not be enough to change behavior. Our study determined whether adding an exercise DVD to an oncologist’s recommendation to exercise led to better outcomes than a recommendation alone.


Ninety breast cancer patients, at varying phases of treatment and stages of disease, were randomized to receive the following: an oncologist verbal recommendation to exercise (REC; n = 43) or REC plus a cancer-specific yoga DVD (REC + DVD; n = 47). Fatigue, vigor, and depression subscales of the Profile of Mood States, and physical activity levels (MET-min/week), exercise readiness, and self-efficacy were assessed at baseline, 4, and 8 weeks. Analyses controlled for age, time since diagnosis, and metastatic disease.


Over 8 weeks, women in REC + DVD used the DVD an average of twice per week. The REC + DVD group had greater reductions in fatigue (− 1.9 ± 5.0 vs. − 1.0 ± 3.5, p = 0.02), maintained exercise readiness (− 0.1 ± 1.1 vs. − 0.3 ± 1.3; p = 0.03), and reported less of a decrease in physical activity (− 420 ± 3075 vs. − 427 ± 5060 MET-min/week, p = 0.06) compared to REC only.


A low-cost, easily distributed, and scalable yoga-based DVD could be a simple booster to an oncologist’s advice that motivates breast cancer patients, even those with advanced disease and/or in treatment, to engage in self-care, e.g., exercise, to manage fatigue.

Trial registration Identifier: NCT03120819

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