Cardiorespiratory fitness in breast cancer patients undergoing adjuvant therapy

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Oncology Research and Treatment, Volume 37, p.122-122 (2014)


2014, April 2014, Center-Authored Paper, Public Health Sciences Division


Aim: To investigate cardiorespiratory fitness (CF) level in breast cancer patients at different stages of adjuvant therapy. Patients and Methods: Women with breast cancer, stage 0-III (n = 222), were categorized according to their current treatment status (neo-adjuvant chemotherapy (CT)/adjuvant CT/started CT/surgery only). Cardiopulmonary exercise testing was used to measure the patient’s CF. Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2peak) was measured to represent cardiovascular and pulmonary functions. Heart rate during exercise at 50 watts (HR50) was assessed as a cardiocirculatory parameter and ventilatory threshold (VT) was used as an indicator of O2 supply to muscle. Analysis of covariance was used to investigate the determinates of CF. Results: The mean age of our study population was 55±9 years. The mean VO2peak was 20.6±6.7 ml/kg/min, mean VT 10.7±2.9 ml/min/kg and mean HR50 112±16 beats/min. CT was significantly associated with decreased VO2peak, with significantly lower adjusted mean VO2peak among patients post adjuvant CT compared to patients with no CT or just started CT regime (all p < .01). Patients post adjuvant CT reached only 63% of the VO2peak level expected for their age- and BMI-category (mean VO2peak 15.5±4.8 ml/kg/min). Similarly, HR50 was significantly associated, but VT was not associated with treatment. Conclusion: Breast cancer patients have marked impaired cardiopulmonary function during and after CT. Hereby, CT seems to impair CF by influencing the oxygen delivery system rather than impacting metabolic muscle function. However, the exact mechanisms need further investigations. Our results underline the need of exercise training in breast cancer patients to counteract the loss of CF during the adjuvant therapy.


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