Randomised controlled trial testing the feasibility of an exercise and nutrition intervention for patients with ovarian cancer during and after first-line chemotherapy (BENITA-study)

BMJ Open. 2022 Feb 23;12(2):e054091. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-054091.


Objectives: Advanced ovarian cancer is a severe disease with major side effects caused by peritoneal carcinomatosis, ascites and gastrointestinal involvement as well as exhaustive treatment like debulking surgery and combination chemotherapy. Two most frequently reported side effects are muscle wasting and malnutrition, leading to frailty, decreased health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and cancer-related fatigue (CRF). As muscle wasting and malnutrition often commence during first-line chemotherapy and develop progressively into a refractory state, an early intervention is warranted. This pilot study aimed to evaluate the safety and acceptance of a combined exercise and nutrition intervention during and after first-line chemotherapy.

Design: The pilot study was conducted as a monocentric 1:1 randomised controlled trial (RCT) with an intervention group (IG) and a control group (CG). Participants were divided by chance into IG or CG. Information on group allocation was conveyed to the study coordinator responsible for making an appointment with the patients for the baseline assessment as well as the physiotherapist and nutritionist responsible for the intervention and outcome assessment in both groups.

Participants: Eligibility criteria included women ≥18 years of age, diagnosed with ovarian cancer, tubal cancer or peritoneal cancer and primary or interval debulking, scheduled but not started adjuvant or neoadjuvant chemotherapy and sufficient German-language skills.

Intervention: The IG received a 12-month exercise and nutrition programme, the CG continued to follow usual care.

Primary and secondary outcome measures: Primary outcomes were recruitment rate, adherence to intervention, completion rate and adverse events. In addition, in-person assessments (eg, HRQoL, CRF, muscle quality and function and dietary intake and quality) were conducted at baseline (T0, before chemotherapy), week 9 (T1, mid-chemotherapy), week 19 (T2, after completion of chemotherapy) and after 12 months of intervention (T3).

Results: Of 60 eligible patients, 15 patients signed informed consent (recruitment rate=25.0%) and were randomised into IG (n=8) and CG (n=7). Eleven participants completed the study (completion rate, 73.3%), one patient dropped out due to loss of interest, one due to poor health, one was lost to follow-up and one patient died.

Conclusion: The BENITA (Bewegungs- und Ernährungsintervention bei Ovarialkrebs) study demonstrated the safety and acceptance of an exercise and nutrition intervention integrated into first-line therapy and follow-up care of ovarian cancer. A large multicentre RCT is planned to investigate the effectiveness of the intervention on HRQoL, CRF and survival and to establish means of implementation into oncology guidelines and clinic routine.

Trial registration number: DRKS00013231.

Keywords: adult oncology; epidemiology; gynaecological oncology.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Ovarian Epithelial
  • Exercise
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Malnutrition* / etiology
  • Malnutrition* / therapy
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / drug therapy