Effects of a combined exercise and dietary intervention on body composition, physical functioning and fatigue in patients with ovarian cancer: results of the PADOVA trial

Br J Cancer. 2024 Jul;131(1):101-109. doi: 10.1038/s41416-024-02694-8. Epub 2024 May 8.


Background: Guidelines recommend to include exercise and dietary advice in standard care for patients with cancer, based on evidence primarily derived from patients with breast cancer. Its applicability to patients with ovarian cancer is uncertain due to differences in patient characteristics and treatments. The PADOVA trial examined the effectiveness of a combined exercise and dietary intervention on fat-free mass (FFM), physical functioning, and fatigue.

Methods: In total, 81 patients with ovarian cancer were randomised to the exercise and dietary intervention (n = 40) or control (n = 41) group. Measurements were performed before chemotherapy, after chemotherapy, and 12 weeks later. FFM was assessed by bioelectrical impedance analysis, and physical functioning and fatigue were assessed using questionnaires. Intervention effects were assessed on an intention-to-treat basis using linear mixed models.

Results: FFM and physical functioning increased, and fatigue decreased significantly over time in both groups. No significant difference between the groups were found for FFM (β = -0.5 kg; 95% CI = -3.2; 2.1), physical functioning (β = 1.4; 95% CI = -5.4; 8.3) and fatigue (β = 0.7; 95% CI = -1.5; 2.8).

Conclusions: During treatment, both groups improved in FFM, physical functioning, and fatigue. The intervention group, however, did not demonstrate additional benefits compared to the control group. This highlights the need for caution when extrapolating findings from different cancer populations to patients with ovarian cancer.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Composition*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Fatigue* / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / complications
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / diet therapy