Exercise Intensity Prescription in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy Treatment

Most people today know someone affected by breast cancer. The statistics are startling, one in nine women is expected to develop breast cancer during her lifetime, but thanks to modern therapies, including chemotherapy, only one in 28 is expected to die from it, and many women go on to have a normal life expectancy. Chemotherapy , while effective, is associated with many negative short-term side effects. Importantly, exercise programs during chemotherapy provide a beneficial influence on many of the treatment-related side effects, but the specific parameters of exercise associated with optimal benefits remain unclear. Furthermore, studies of chemotherapy and exercise use a method of exercise intensity prescription that does not account for chemotherapy side effects: often, the prescription will be based on the body's response to exercise prior to chemotherapy treatment. Amy Kirkham is undertaking research to provide information on how the body changes with respect to exercise ability throughout chemotherapy treatment – information that is not currently available. Specifically, she will frequently test indicators of physical fitness in a group of breast cancer patients who are participating in an exercise and chemotherapy study, to analyze and compare the changes between tests and over time. Additionally, she will try to develop and validate a simple exercise test that can be used easily and often to adjust the exercise intensity prescription of breast cancer patients currently involved in a chemotherapy and exercise study. The results of Ms. Kirkham’s research could lead to the development of a more accurate method for prescribing exercise for cancer patients, and ultimately affect how other research on cancer and exercise is conducted in the future.