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J Natl Cancer Inst. 2017 Dec 1;109(12). doi: 10.1093/jnci/djx072.

Randomized Trial of Exercise on Quality of Life in Women With Ovarian Cancer: Women's Activity and Lifestyle Study in Connecticut (WALC).

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Yale Cancer Center, New Haven, CT.
Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT.
Yale School of Nursing, New Haven, CT.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA.
Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Summa Akron City Hospital NEOMED, Akron, OH.
Geisinger Health System, Danville, PA.
Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT.



Ovarian cancer survivors experience a wide range of treatment side effects that can negatively affect health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Physical activity has been shown to improve HRQOL and cancer-related fatigue (CRF) for other cancer survivors; however, no large randomized controlled trial (RCT) has been conducted for ovarian cancer.


This study examined the impact of a six-month RCT of exercise vs attention control on change in HRQOL (Short Form Health Survey-36) and CRF (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Fatigue Scale) in ovarian cancer survivors. Women (n = 144) were randomly assigned to study arms between May 1, 2010, and March 20, 2014. All statistical tests were two-sided.


A total of 74 women were randomly assigned to exercise and 70 to attention control. A total of 113 (78.5%) of the participants completed the six-month assessment. Adherence to the exercise intervention was excellent (166.0±66.1 minutes/week in the exercise arm). At six months, women in the exercise arm had improved physical HRQOL (SF-36 Physical Component Summary Score) compared with the control arm, 1.8 (SD = 1.1) vs -2.0 (SD = 1.2) , respectively (group difference = 3.7, SD = 1.2, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.7 to 6.8, P = .02). No group differences were seen for change in mental HRQOL. There was a statistically significant improvement in the fatigue score (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Fatigue) for exercisers (4.0, SD = 1.1, 95% CI = 1.8 to 6.2, P < .001) but not for controls (1.2, SD = 1.2, 95% CI = -1.1 to 3.5, P = .31), with a between-group difference of 2.8 (SD = 1.5, 95% CI = -0.2 to 5.7, P = .06).


We found a six-month home-based, telephone-delivered exercise intervention of primarily brisk walking to be associated with improved physical HRQOL in women with ovarian cancer. Given that higher HRQOL and exercise have both been associated with overall survival in women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, oncologists and primary care providers should recommend and refer women diagnosed with ovarian cancer to clinic- or community-based exercise programs.

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