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The chemotherapy medications used for breast cancer treatment are important for achieving a cure but a potential side effect is that they can affect heart function. Current tools used to assess your heart function during and following breast cancer treatment cannot accurately predict those who will go on to develop heart problems. Aerobic fitness is an important predictor of outcomes in people with certain forms of heart disease, and having a particularly low level of aerobic fitness (termed functional disability) appears very closely linked with the risk of developing heart failure. Importantly, functional disability also reflects an exercise capacity that would limit your ability to perform basic activities of daily living such as walking briskly, climbing stairs or gardening.
We are conducting a study which aims to identify how anthracycline chemotherapy affects your exercise capacity and risk of functional disability. We would also like to assess how the standard test used to measure your heart function at rest compares to state of the art MRI imaging of the heart in being able to predict your risk of becoming functionally disabled. Furthermore, we are testing whether exercise training during and following your chemotherapy is helpful in protecting against functional disability.
Who is it for?
You may be eligible to join this study if you are between the ages 40 and 75 years old, have been diagnosed with breast cancer and are scheduled for Anthracycline-based chemotherapy.
You will be participating in a randomised controlled research project. You will be randomly assigned to one of two groups (just like a coin toss); the control group which receives usual care for your breast cancer, or the exercise group which participates in a 12 month supervised exercise intervention plus usual care. You will have an equal chance of being randomised into either the exercise or usual care group.
You will then undergo a series of assessments at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute within two weeks of starting your chemotherapy (Baseline), after finishing chemotherapy (four months) and again at 12 months after starting chemotherapy. Each round of testing will be split across two days, and last between 1.5-3.5 hours each. This means you will visit the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute on six occasions, totalling approximately 15 hours. The testing sessions will include assessment of your heart function, exercise capacity, body composition, muscle strength/function, cognitive function and quality of life. The exercise program will consist of three to four sessions 60-minute exercise sessions per week of moderate-high intensity endurance (i.e cycling, walking, jogging) and resistance exercise aimed at improving your heart and muscle function. The training program will be prescribed by an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) who is experienced in prescribing exercise for individuals undergoing cancer treatment.
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