Purpose: Women undergoing surgery for breast cancer experience side effects, such as fatigue, reduced quality of life (QOL) and depression. Physical activity (PA) is associated with improved psychological adjustment during treatment and survivorship, yet little is known about how PA relates to fatigue, depression and QOL in the period following surgery for breast cancer. The purpose of the study was to examine the relationships between these constructs in women who recently underwent surgery for breast cancer.
Methods: At 2-10 weeks post-surgery, 240 women with non-metastatic breast cancer reported intensity and duration of moderate and vigorous PA (MVPA), fatigue (intensity and interference), depressed mood, clinician-rated depression and functional QOL.
Results: In the path analysis models tested, women that reported greater weekly MVPA reported less fatigue interference, greater functional QOL, less depressed mood, and lower clinician-rated depression. Tests of indirect effects suggested that fatigue interference may be an intermediate pathway by which MVPA relates to functional QOL, clinician-rated depression and depressed mood.
Conclusion: Women who are more physically active in the months after breast cancer surgery show greater psychological adaptation in the initial phases of their treatment.