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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Cancer 1/2018

The effects of short-term fasting on quality of life and tolerance to chemotherapy in patients with breast and ovarian cancer: a randomized cross-over pilot study

BMC Cancer > Ausgabe 1/2018
Stephan P. Bauersfeld, Christian S. Kessler, Manfred Wischnewsky, Annette Jaensch, Nico Steckhan, Rainer Stange, Barbara Kunz, Barbara Brückner, Jalid Sehouli, Andreas Michalsen



This pilot trial aimed to study the feasibility and effects on quality of life (QOL) and well-being of short-term fasting (STF) during chemotherapy in patients with gynecological cancer.


In an individually-randomized cross-over trial patients with gynecological cancer, 4 to 6 planned chemotherapy cycles were included. Thirty-four patients were randomized to STF in the first half of chemotherapies followed by normocaloric diet (group A;n = 18) or vice versa (group B;n = 16). Fasting started 36 h before and ended 24 h after chemotherapy (60 h-fasting period). QOL was assessed by the FACIT-measurement system.


The chemotherapy-induced reduction of QOL was less than the Minimally Important Difference (MID; FACT-G = 5) with STF but greater than the MID for non-fasted periods. The mean chemotherapy-induced deterioration of total FACIT-F was 10.4 ± 5.3 for fasted and 27.0 ± 6.3 for non-fasted cycles in group A and 14.1 ± 5.6 for non-fasted and 11.0 ± 5.6 for fasted cycles in group B. There were no serious adverse effects.


STF during chemotherapy is well tolerated and appears to improve QOL and fatigue during chemotherapy. Larger studies should prove the effect of STF as an adjunct to chemotherapy.

Trial registration

This trial was registered at NCT01954836.
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