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Title: Physical activity and breast cancer
Author: Lahart, I. M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5355 076X
Awarding Body: University of Wolverhampton
Current Institution: University of Wolverhampton
Date of Award: 2014
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Background: Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer and a leading cause of cancer death among females, both worldwide and in the UK. Although, UK incidence of breast cancer is rising, breast cancer mortality rates are falling, due largely to early detection and improved treatment. As a result there are more women living with a diagnosis of breast cancer than ever before. Due mainly to side-effects of adjuvant therapy, breast cancer patients may require diagnostic, therapeutic, supportive or palliative services many years post-diagnosis, which poses a major challenge to already stretched healthcare services. Accordingly, effective and inexpensive interventions that can alleviate treatment side-effects, improve health, quality of life and potentially reduce risk of early mortality are required for breast cancer patients. Awareness of the positive influence that physical activity can have on breast cancer development and outcome is an important determinant of physical activity levels. A higher level of physical activity before and after breast cancer diagnosis is related to a lower risk of all-cause and breast cancer-related mortality. Randomised controlled trials have reported beneficial effects of physical activity interventions on outcomes relating to health, quality of life and mortality risk among breast cancer survivors. Aims: The present project aimed to: 1) assess awareness of the role of physical activity on breast cancer risk and the sufficiency of physical activity undertaken in women attending the NHS breast screening programme (NHSBSP), 2) compare physical activity levels of women at different stages of breast cancer pathway, 3) investigate the effects of a low-cost six-month home-based physical activity intervention on physical activity, body mass, health-related quality of life (HRQoL), insulin resistance and blood lipid profiles of breast cancer survivors and 4) assess the effects of our home-based intervention on cardiorespiratory fitness in a subset of breast cancer survivors. Methods: A total of 309 volunteers (188 NHSBSP attendees, 41 breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and 80 post-treatment breast cancer survivors) participated in the current project. Physical activity was assessed via the International Physical activity Questionnaires (IPAQ). In studies one and two, Body mass and body mass index (BMI) were assessed directly in chemotherapy patients and breast cancer survivors, and indirectly from self-reported values in NHSBSP attendees. While in study three, body fat percentage was measured via bioelectrical impedance analysis, HRQoL was assessed using the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast (FACT-B) questionnaire and fasting blood samples were taken to measure lipid, glucose and insulin concentrations at baseline and post-six month home-based physical activity intervention. In study four, a random subsample of 32 breast cancer survivors undertook an exercise tolerance test to establish peak oxygen uptake values. Results: A high proportion (70%) of NHSBSP attendees engaged in low-moderate levels of physical activity and performed low amounts of recreational physical activity. Attendees demonstrated high awareness (75%) of the role of physical activity in reducing breast cancer risk but those categorised as “low activity” were significantly unaware of insufficiency of activity (p<0.05). Chemotherapy patients and breast cancer survivors had significantly lower levels of total physical activity than NHSBSP attendees (p<0.001 and p<0.05, respectively). The randomised controlled trial revealed significant improvements in total physical activity, body mass (p<0.05), BMI (p<0.05) HRQoL (breast cancer subscale, p<0.01; trial outcome index, p<0.05) and total (p<0.01) and low-density lipoprotein (p<0.05) cholesterol concentrations in the intervention group compared to usual care, and significant improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness (p<0.05) in a subsample of breast cancer survivors allocated to intervention. Conclusions: Physical activity interventions that incorporate strategies aimed at increasing awareness of recommended physical activity guidelines may be required in populations at risk of breast cancer. A relatively large proportion of women at risk of breast cancer may not be sufficiently exposed to the potential benefits of physical activity on breast cancer outcomes. Post-treatment breast cancer patients may be more receptive to physical activity interventions as the negative effects of chemotherapy begin to resolve, and therefore, may benefit from physical activity interventions. Results suggest that a low-cost home-based physical activity intervention with counselling and telephone support can improve the health and HRQoL of breast cancer survivors, which may in turn potentially reduce risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease-related mortality. Given the encouraging results and its highly portable and feasible nature, our intervention represents a promising tool for use in health and community settings to benefit large numbers of breast cancer survivors. The current project supports the inclusion of physical activity promotion as an integral component for the management and care of breast cancer survivors.
Supervisor: Metsios, George. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Physical Activity ; Exercise ; Breast Cancer ; Awareness ; Randomised Controlled Trial ; Randomized Controlled Trial ; Systematic Review ; Meta-analysis ; Breast Cancer Biomarkers