Aims: Breast cancer is 100 times more common in women than in men, yet the disease burden is similar. A growing body of evidence suggests that exercise can improve physical and mental health outcomes in breast cancer patients, however studies in male breast cancer patients are lacking. The aim of this randomized controlled pilot study was to explore the impact of an home-based, online-instructed exercise program on fatigue and health-related quality of life in men with breast cancer.
Methods: 23 men with breast cancer (mean age 59.5 ± 9.1 years; BMI 26.8 ± 4.4) participated in a 12-week home-based, online-instructed aerobic and resistance exercise program three 30min. sessions/week. Patients were randomly assigned to Group A, exercising at 40-50% of their maximal heart rate (HRmax) or Group B, exercising at 70-80% HRmax. Patients completed the Multidemsional Fatigue Inventory (MFI-20) and the Ageing Males’ Symptoms rating scale (AMS) at baseline and after the intervention. Data was analyzed using the Mann-Whitney U-Test and the Wilcoxon Test.
Results: 18 patients completed the intervention, while five patients withdrew from the study. The change over time in MFI-Physical fatigue differed significantly between groups (Group A: -1.75 vs. Group B: 0.30; p =0.034), however a between-group difference existed at baseline (p=0.043). An explorative analysis of the within-group changes revealed significant improvements in MFI-Physical fatigue and MFI-Reduced activity (p=0.031 and 0.042, respectively) in Group A as well as a positive trend in the somatic and psychological subscale of the AMS (p=0.073 and 0.062, respectively).
Conclusions: To our knowledge this is the first randomized controlled exercise intervention trial in male breast cancer patients. A home-based, online-instructed exercise program seems feasible for men with breast cancer however larger trials are necessary to examine the impact of exercise on physical and mental health outcomes.