An exercise intervention for women undergoing chemotherapy for ovarian cancer : feasibility and preliminary outcomes

Newton, Melissa J. (2010) An exercise intervention for women undergoing chemotherapy for ovarian cancer : feasibility and preliminary outcomes. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Exercise interventions during adjuvant cancer treatment have been shown to increase functional capacity, relieve fatigue and distress and in one recent study, assist chemotherapy completion. These studies have been limited to breast, prostate or mixed cancer groups and it is not yet known if a similar intervention is even feasible among women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Women undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer commonly have extensive pelvic surgery followed by high intensity chemotherapy. It is hypothesized that women with ovarian cancer may benefit most from a customised exercise intervention during chemotherapy treatment. This could reduce the number and severity of chemotherapy-related side-effects and optimize treatment adherence. Hence, the aim of the research was to assess feasibility and acceptability of a walking intervention in women with ovarian cancer whilst undergoing chemotherapy, as well as pre-post intervention changes in a range of physical and psychological outcomes.

Newly diagnosed women with ovarian cancer were recruited from the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH), to participate in a walking program throughout chemotherapy. The study used a one group pre- post-intervention test design. Baseline (conducted following surgery but prior to the first or second chemotherapy cycles) and follow-up (conducted three weeks after the last chemotherapy dose was received) assessments were performed. To accommodate changes in side-effects associated with treatment, specific weekly walking targets with respect to frequency, intensity and duration, were individualised for each participant. To assess feasibility, adherence and compliance with prescribed walking sessions, withdrawals and adverse events were recorded. Physical and psychological outcomes assessed included functional capacity, body composition, anxiety and depression, symptoms experienced during treatment and quality of life. Chemotherapy completion data was also documented and self-reported program helpfulness was assessed using a questionnaire post intervention.

Forty-two women were invited to participate. Nine women were recruited, all of whom completed the program. There were no adverse events associated with participating in the intervention and all women reported that the walking program was helpful during their neo-adjuvant or adjuvant chemotherapy treatment. Adherence and compliance to the walking prescription was high. On average, women achieved at least two of their three individual weekly prescription targets 83% of the time (range 42% to 94%). Positive changes were found in functional capacity and quality of life, in addition to reductions in the number and intensity of treatment-associated symptoms over the course of the intervention period. Functional capacity increased for all nine women from baseline to follow-up assessment, with improvements ranging from 10% to 51%. Quality of life improvements were also noted, especially in the physical well-being scale (baseline: median 18; follow-up: median 23). Treatment symptoms reduced in presence and severity, specifically, in constipation, pain and fatigue, post intervention. These positive yet preliminary results suggest that a walking intervention for women receiving chemotherapy for ovarian cancer is safe, feasible and acceptable. Importantly, women perceived the program to be helpful and rewarding, despite being conducted during a time typically associated with elevated distress and treatment symptoms that are often severe enough to alter or cease chemotherapy prescription.

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ID Code: 45452
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Hayes, Sandi, Janda, Monika, & Beesley, Vanessa
Keywords: chemotherapy, exercise, feasibility, intervention, ovarian cancer, physical activity, preliminary
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 25 Aug 2011 03:23
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 14:45

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