BACKGROUND: Up to 80% of breast cancer patients suffer from Cancer Related Cognitive Impairments (CRCI). Exercise is suggested as a potential supportive care option to reduce cognitive decline in cancer patients. This study will investigate the effects of a high-intensity interval endurance training (HIIT) on CRCI in breast cancer patients. Potentially underlying immunological and neurobiological mechanisms, as well as effects on patients' self-perceived cognitive functioning and common cancer related side-effects, will be explored.

METHODS: A single-blinded randomized controlled trial will be carried out. The impact of HIIT on CRCI will be compared to that of a placebo-intervention (supervised myofascial release training). Both interventions will be conducted simultaneously with the patients' first-line chemotherapy treatment typically lasting 12-18 weeks. Fifty-nine women with breast cancer will be included in each of the two groups. The study is powered to detect (α = .05, β = .2) a medium effect size difference between the two groups (d = .5) in terms of patients' change in cognitive testing performances, from baseline until the end of the exercise-intervention. The cognitive test battery, recommended by the International Cancer and Cognition Task Force to assess CRCI, will be used as primary measure. This includes the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test (learning/verbal memory), the Controlled Oral Word Association Test (verbal fluency) and the Trail-Making-Test A/B (attention/set-switching). The following endpoints will be assessed as secondary measures: Go-/No-Go test performance (response inhibition), self-perceived cognitive functioning, serum levels of pro- and antiinflammatory markers (tumor necrosis factor alpha, Interleukin-6, Interleukin-1 alpha, Interleukin-1 beta, C-reactive protein, Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist and Interleukin-10), serum levels of neurotrophic and growth factors (brain-derived neurotrophic factor, insulin-like growth factor 1 and vascular endothelial growth factor), as well as common cancer-related side effects (decrease in physical capacity, fatigue, anxiety and depression, sleep disturbances, quality of life and chemotherapy compliance).

DISCUSSION: This study will provide data on the question whether HIIT is an effective supportive therapy that alleviates CRCI in breast cancer patients. Moreover, the present study will help shed light on the underlying mechanisms of potential CRCI improving effects of exercise in breast cancer patients.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: DRKS.de, German Clinical Trials Register (DRKS), ID: DRKS00011390 , Registered on 17 January 2018.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18:1071
JournalBMC cancer
Issue number1
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 06.11.2018

Research areas and keywords

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Cognitive Dysfunction
  • Depression
  • Endurance Training
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Female
  • High-Intensity Interval Training
  • Humans
  • Interleukins
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Physical Fitness
  • Journal Article
  • Randomized Controlled Trial


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