Background: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of moderate-to-high intensity aerobic training in breast cancer patients receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
Methods: Twenty patients with stage IIB-IIIC operable breast cancer were randomly assigned to receive doxorubicin plus cyclophosphamide (AC) or AC in combination with aerobic training (AC + AET) (n = 10/group) for 12 weeks. The AC+ AET group performed three supervised aerobic cycle ergometry sessions per week at 60%-100% of exercise capacity (VO2peak). Safety outcomes included exercise testing as well as treatment- and exercise training-related adverse events (AEs), whereas efficacy outcomes included cardiopulmonary function and patient-reported outcomes (PROs) as measured by a cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET) and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast (FACT-B) scale.
Results: Twelve non-significant ECG abnormalities and three non-life threatening events occurred during CPET procedures. One AE was reported during aerobic training. There were no significant between group differences for clinician-documented events (e.g. pain, nausea) or hematological parameters (p's > 0.05). Attendance and adherence rates to aerobic training were 82% and 66%, respectively. Intention-to-treat analysis indicated that VO2peak increased by 2.6 ± 3.5 ml/kg/min (+ 13.3%) in the AC + AET group and decreased by 1.5 ± 2.2 ml/kg/min (-8.6%) in the AC group (between group difference, p = 0.001). FACT-B increased 11.1 points in the AC + AET group compared to a 1.5 point decrease in the AC group (between group difference, p = 0.685).
Conclusion: Moderate-to-high intensity aerobic training when conducted with one-on-one supervision is a safe adjunct therapy associated with improvements in cardiopulmonary function and select PROs during neoadjuvant chemotherapy.