Effect of physical exercise on cognitive function and brain measures after chemotherapy in patients with breast cancer (PAM study): protocol of a randomised controlled trial.



After treatment with chemotherapy, many patients with breast cancer experience cognitive problems. While limited interventions are available to improve cognitive functioning, physical exercise showed positive effects in healthy older adults and people with mild cognitive impairment. The Physical Activity and Memory study aims to investigate the effect of physical exercise on cognitive functioning and brain measures in chemotherapy-exposed patients with breast cancer with cognitive problems.


Study results may impact usual care if physical exercise improves cognitive functioning for breast cancer survivors.




One hundred and eighty patients with breast cancer with cognitive problems 2-4 years after diagnosis are randomised (1:1) into an exercise intervention or a control group. The 6-month exercise intervention consists of twice a week 1-hour aerobic and strength exercises supervised by a physiotherapist and twice a week 1-hour Nordic or power walking. The control group is asked to maintain their habitual activity pattern during 6 months. The primary outcome (verbal learning) is measured at baseline and 6 months. Further measurements include online neuropsychological tests, self-reported cognitive complaints, a 3-tesla brain MRI, patient-reported outcomes (quality of life, fatigue, depression, anxiety, work performance), blood sampling and physical fitness. The MRI scans and blood sampling will be used to gain insight into underlying mechanisms. At 18 months online neuropsychological tests, self-reported cognitive complaints and patient-reported outcomes will be repeated.

More about this publication

BMJ open
  • Volume 9
  • Issue nr. 6
  • Pages e028117
  • Publication date 20-06-2019

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