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Health Sciences


Introduction: Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a common, dose-limiting effect of cancer therapy. The neuropathic pain associated with CIPN often has negative implications on an individual’s quality of life (QOL) and has long been recognized as one of the more difficult types of pain to treat. Treatment of neuropathic pain due to CIPN often requires a multidisciplinary approach, with much attention focused on the use of pharmacological therapies. However, in most instances, these agents have been shown to have additional negative side effects for cancer patients. Thus, other interventions that address the symptoms of CIPN should be considered. One such possible intervention is exercise rehabilitation, which has previously been reported effective in attenuating numerous cancer treatment-related toxicities and enhancing the QOL of patients. However, to our knowledge, there have been no published clinical trials examining the role of exercise in preserving neurological function following chemotherapy. As such, the purpose of this investigation was to examine the current exercise habits of breast cancer patients who are diagnosed with CIPN and the impact on pain and QOL.

Methods: 300 women listed in the Breast Cancer Registry of Greater Cincinnati database were recruited by mail and asked to complete three questionnaires (McGill QOL, Leeds Assessment of Neuropathic Symptoms and Signs, and Current Exercise Behaviors). Data was analyzed at the 0.05 level of significance using a student’s t-test and a Pearson’s product moment correlation.

Results: 134 completed surveys were returned and analyzed (44.6% response rate). Overall, QOL and exercise behaviors were moderately correlated (r = 0.56). Patients reported exercising an average of 2.3 d/wk and an overall QOL of 4.7. Of the patients completing the recommended amount of physical activity (EX, n = 21), QOL was 6.3, which was significantly higher than patients who did not meet these recommendations (SED, n = 113, p<0.001). Likewise, only 15% of EX patients reported experiencing pain compared to 72% of SED patients (p<0.001). Conclusions: Based on these data, it seems likely that an exercise intervention would be successful in attenuating symptoms of CIPN and improving the overall QOL of breast cancer patients.

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