Exercise to Reduce Anthracycline-Mediated Cardiovascular Complications in Breast Cancer Survivors

Curr Oncol. 2021 Oct 13;28(5):4139-4156. doi: 10.3390/curroncol28050351.


While developments in cancer therapeutics have greatly reduced morbidity and mortality in females with breast cancer, it comes at a cost of an increased risk of cardiovascular complications. In particular, anthracyclines, like doxorubicin, which are a mainstay of current chemotherapy regimens, are associated with dose-dependent cardiotoxicity. Exercise has been widely accepted as an effective intervention in reducing cardiovascular risk in a variety of different clinical conditions. However, the benefits of exercise in anthracycline-mediated cardiotoxicity are not clearly understood. First, this review discusses the pre-clinical studies which have elucidated the cardioprotective mechanisms of aerobic and resistance exercise in improving cardiovascular function in the setting of anthracycline treatment. Next, it aims to summarize the results of aerobic and resistance exercise clinical trials conducted in females with breast cancer who received anthracycline-based chemotherapy. The review further discusses the current exercise guidelines for women undergoing chemotherapy and contraindications for exercise. Finally, the review addresses gaps in research, specifically the need for further clinical trials to establish a recommended exercise prescription within this patient population.

Keywords: aerobic; anthracycline; breast cancer; cardioprotection; cardiotoxicity; exercise; resistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthracyclines / adverse effects
  • Breast Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Cancer Survivors*
  • Cardiotoxicity / etiology
  • Cardiotoxicity / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Heart Diseases*
  • Humans


  • Anthracyclines