Effect of exercise in reducing breast and chest-wall pain in patients with breast cancer: a pilot study

P. Wong, T. Muanza, T. Hijal, L. Masse, S. Pillay, M. Chasen, I. Lowensteyn, M. Gold, S. Grover



Breast or chest-wall pain (BCP) is prevalent in 20%–50% of breast cancer survivors, and it affects quality of life (QOL). To determine the feasibility and potential efficacy of an exercise program to improve patient QOL and BCP, such a program was offered to breast cancer patients suffering from BCP.


The study enrolled 10 breast cancer patients with moderate-to-severe BCP at 3–6 months after completion of all adjuvant treatments. These patients participated in a 12-week comprehensive health improvement program (CHIP). Intensity was adjusted to reach 65%–85% of the patient’s maximal heart rate. Before the CHIP and at 1 and 6 months after completion of the CHIP, QOL and pain were measured using questionnaires [European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life core and breast cancer modules (QLQ-C30, -BR23) and the McGill Pain Questionnaire short form] completed by the patients. Results were compared with those from case-matched control subjects from another study at McGill University.


After the CHIP, patients reported significant and clinically important improvements in QOL and symptoms. At 1 and 6 months post-CHIP, patients in the study felt, on average, better in overall QOL than did historical control subjects.


Our study suggests that patients who experience chronic BCP may benefit from an exercise program. A randomized controlled trial is warranted.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3747/co.19.905

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)