A total of 181 chemotherapy-treated stage I-III breast cancer patients with cognitive problems and relatively low physical activity levels (≤150 minutes moderate to vigorous physical activity per week), divided into an exercise (N = 91) or control group (N = 90).
The 6-month long intervention consisted of (supervised) aerobic and strength training, 4 × 1 hour/week. Measurements at baseline (2-4 years post-diagnosis) and after 6 months included gray matter CBF in the whole brain, hippocampus, anterior cingulate cortex, and posterior cingulate cortex. Physical fitness and memory function were also assessed. Subgroup analyses were performed in patients with high fatigue levels at baseline.
Exercise is a promising intervention to alleviate cognitive problems in breast cancer patients, but studies on mechanisms underlying these effects are lacking.
Multiple regression analyses with a two-sided alpha of 0.05 for all analyses.
There was a significant improvement in physical fitness (VO2peak in mL/minute/kg) in the intervention group (N = 53) compared to controls (N = 51, β = 1.47 mL/minute/kg, 95% CI: 0.44-2.50). However, no intervention effects on CBF were found (eg, whole brain: P = 0.565). Highly fatigued patients showed larger but insignificant treatment effects on CBF (eg, whole brain: P = 0.098). Additionally, irrespective of group, a change in physical fitness was positively associated with changes in CBF (eg, whole brain: β = 0.75, 95% CI: 0.07-1.43). There was no significant relation between CBF changes and changes in memory performance.
Two-dimensional echo planar pseudo-continuous arterial spin labeling CBF sequence at 3 T.
1 TECHNICAL EFFICACY STAGE: 5.
Investigating whether an exercise intervention can affect cerebral blood flow (CBF) in cognitively impaired breast cancer patients and to determine if CBF changes relate to memory function.
The exercise intervention did not affect CBF of cognitively affected breast cancer patients. A change in physical fitness was associated with changes in CBF, but changes in CBF were not associated with memory functioning.