Effects of high-intensity interval training on fatigue and quality of life in testicular cancer survivors

Br J Cancer. 2018 May;118(10):1313-1321. doi: 10.1038/s41416-018-0044-7. Epub 2018 May 8.


Background: Testicular cancer survivors (TCS) are at increased risk of cancer-related fatigue (CRF), psychosocial impairment, and poor mental health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Here, we examine the effects of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in TCS. Secondarily, we explore cardiorespiratory fitness as a mediator of intervention effects and select baseline characteristics as moderators of intervention effects.

Methods: TCS (n = 63) were randomly assigned to 12 weeks of supervised HIIT or usual care (UC). PROs included CRF, depression, anxiety, stress, self-esteem, sleep quality, and HRQoL assessed at baseline, post-intervention, and 3-month follow-up.

Results: TCS (median 7 years postdiagnosis) completed 99% of training sessions and achieved 98% of target training intensity. ANCOVA revealed that, compared to UC, HIIT significantly improved post-intervention CRF (p = 0.003), self-esteem (p = 0.029), and multiple HRQoL domains (ps ≤ 0.05). Effects on CRF (p = 0.031) and vitality (p = 0.015) persisted at 3-month follow-up. Cardiorespiratory fitness changes mediated CRF and HRQoL improvements. CRF effects were larger for TCS with an inactive lifestyle, lower fitness, higher testosterone, and clinical fatigue at baseline.

Conclusions: HIIT significantly improves CRF and HRQoL in TCS. Mediation by cardiorespiratory fitness and moderation by clinical characteristics suggests opportunities for targeted exercise interventions to optimise PROs in TCS.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Cancer Survivors
  • Cardiorespiratory Fitness / physiology*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Depression / physiopathology
  • Depression / therapy
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Fatigue / physiopathology
  • Fatigue / therapy*
  • High-Intensity Interval Training / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Testicular Neoplasms / complications
  • Testicular Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Testicular Neoplasms / therapy*