Exercise intervention in breast cancer patients with aromatase inhibitor-associated arthralgia: A pilot study

C. A. Denysschen, H. Burton, F. Ademuyiwa, E. Levine, S. Tetewsky, T. O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Aromatase inhibitors (AIs) block estrogen synthesis and are commonly used as adjuvant treatments for breast cancer patients. A common side effect is joint pain. This was a pilot study to examine implementation of an exercise program in reducing joint pain and improving quality of life (QoL) and functional performance in breast cancer patients treated with AIs. Twenty-six participants completed an 8-week, home-based program that combined upper and lower body resistance exercises with self-selected aerobic exercises. We measured: (1) anthropometry (2) functional performance (grip strength, biceps curl to exhaustion, and sit-to-stand and cardiovascular endurance (3-min step test). Joint pain and QoL were assessed using self-administered surveys. Participants reported a significantly lower number of painful joints, an improvement in QoL and a reduction in depressive symptoms. Significant improvements in grip strength, biceps curl, and sit-to-stand (by 14%, 51% and 15% respectively) were also observed. However, we found no significant changes in cardiovascular endurance or in anthropometric measures. An 8-week, home-based exercise program may provide potential benefit to the breast cancer patients undergoing AI treatment by reducing joint pain, improving functional performance and QoL, and reducing depressive symptoms. Further studies are needed to confirm these results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-501
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Aromatase inhibitors
  • Breast cancer
  • Exercise
  • Joint pain


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