Breast Cancer and Exercise

A national multi-centre trial, that included Tampere as one of the centres, where the aim was to explore the impact of exercise on breast cancer survivors' bone structure, physical performance, weight management and quality of life.


In Finland, breast cancer is the most common cancer type among women and it is becoming increasingly more common with nearly 3,800 women diagnosed every year.

One form of adjuvant treatment used to treat breast cancer is chemotherapy and hormonal therapy such as antiestrogens and aromatase inhibitors. Long-term use of medication has some harmful effects, one of which is related to the reduced production of oestrogen.

The harmful effects include reduced bone density and reduced physical and mental performance. Similarly, osteoporosis may predispose patients to osteoporotic fractures; although the risk of fractures can be reduced through various long-term medications that increase the treatment costs.

Exercise and guided training has been found to have a variety of health benefits, including improving muscular strength and reducing the risk of falling.


The trial conducted at the UKK Institute was part of an extensive BREX trial. The study investigated, with the help of breast cancer survivors who received adjuvant treatments (chemotherapy, hormonal and/or radiation therapy), the effects of intensive aerobic exercise on bone structure, physical performance, weight management and quality of life.

In addition, the study investigated the prevention of other diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, as well as the cost-effectiveness of an exercise intervention.


A total of 90 women participated in the Tampere part of the study which was conducted at the UKK Institute in collaboration with the Tampere University Hospital and the Pirkanmaa Cancer Society.

The exercise group members participated in supervised training once a week and they were also asked to go through the given home training program independently three times a week.







Riitta Luoto, Research Director



For publications (international and Finnish) of this research see the Finnish description.
To find the list of publications (Julkaisuja), scroll the page down.

Last Modified: 27.11.2014


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