Optitrain: a randomised controlled exercise trial for women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy

BMC Cancer. 2017 Feb 6;17(1):100. doi: 10.1186/s12885-017-3079-x.


Background: Women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy suffer from a range of detrimental disease and treatment related side-effects. Exercise has shown to be able to counter some of these side-effects and improve physical function as well as quality of life. The primary aim of the study is to investigate and compare the effects of two different exercise regimens on the primary outcome cancer-related fatigue and the secondary outcomes muscle strength, function and structure, cardiovascular fitness, systemic inflammation, skeletal muscle gene activity, health related quality of life, pain, disease and treatment-related symptoms in women with breast cancer receiving chemotherapy. The second aim is to examine if any effects are sustained 1, 2, and 5 years following the completion of the intervention and to monitor return to work, recurrence and survival. The third aim of the study is to examine the effect of attendance and adherence rates on the effects of the exercise programme.

Methods: This study is a randomised controlled trial including 240 women with breast cancer receiving chemotherapy in Stockholm, Sweden. The participants are randomly allocated to either: group 1: Aerobic training, group 2: Combined resistance and aerobic training, or group 3: usual care (control group). During the 5-year follow-up period, participants in the exercise groups will receive a physical activity prescription. Measurements for endpoints will take place at baseline, after 16 weeks (end of intervention) as well as after 1, 2 and 5 years.

Discussion: This randomised controlled trial will generate substantial information regarding the effects of different types of exercise on the health of patients with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy. We expect that dissemination of the knowledge gained from this study will contribute to developing effective long term strategies to improve the physical and psychosocial health of breast cancer survivors.

Trial registration: OptiTrain - Optimal Training Women with Breast Cancer (OptiTrain), NCT02522260 ; Registration: June 9, 2015, Last updated version Feb 29, 2016. Retrospectively registered.

Keywords: Chemotherapy; Exercise intervention; Fatigue; Inflammation; Patients with breast cancer; Skeletal muscle.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Cardiovascular System / physiopathology
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Sweden
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Antineoplastic Agents

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02522260