Does walking protect against decline in cognitive functioning among breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy? Results from a small randomised controlled trial

Kajal Gokal, Fehmidah Munir, Samreen Ahmed, Kiran Kancherla, Deborah Wallis

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    36 Citations (Scopus)
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    Background: Cancer related cognitive impairments have been subjectively reported and objectively detected in breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy and are known to have a profound negative impact on productivity, psychosocial well-being and overall quality of life. Moderate levels of walking are known to be of benefit to the psychosocial well-being of those affected by breast cancer and for managing cognitive impairment in healthy adults, children, and the elderly. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of a home-based, self-managed, moderate intensity walking intervention on subjective and objective cognitive functioning in breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
    Methods: A home-based, self-managed intervention that consisted of moderate levels of walking was compared to usual care among breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy in a randomised controlled trial. Outcome measures included changes in subjective (CFQ) and objectively detected cognitive functioning (Stroop, SART and two subscales from the WAIS- Digit Span and Block Design). Fifty participants were randomised to either the intervention group (n=25), who completed 12 weeks of moderate intensity walking, or to the control group (n=25) mid-way through chemotherapy.
    Results: Compared with the control group, the self-managed walking intervention had positive effects on perceived cognitive function but not on sustained attention, executive function, memory or visual spatial skills when assessed objectively using neuropsychological measures.
    Conclusion: This home-based, self-managed intervention is beneficial for protecting against perceived cognitive decline in breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy. There is a need for further research to objectively assess cognitive decline within this population with larger sample sizes of patients.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0206874
    Number of pages23
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2018

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright: © 2018 Gokal et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

    Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


    • Randomised Controlled Trial, Intervention, Breast cancer, physical activity, chemotherapy


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