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Purpose of this retrospective data analysis was to depict the effects of a structured off-season conditioning program with breast cancer survivors competing in dragon boat paddling.
In this study 10 breast cancer survivors (mean age 52.0 ± 5.4 years) who had finished the primary cancer treatment and who were paddlers of the Vienna Pink Dragon self-help group underwent a structured 10-week exercise program as part of their routine supportive treatment. Upper extremity strength, endurance capacity, shoulder flexibility, quality of life and work ability were assessed at baseline and after completion of the exercise program.
Out of 10 patients 8 completed more than 80% of the exercise sessions. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) of the pooled exercise effects showed a very large effect size (Η2 = 0.982); however, the change from baseline to follow-up was non-significant (p = 0.363). In the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life of Cancer Patients Questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C30) the exercise program led to a significant improvement of body image (p = 0.02) and less arm symptoms in the affected arm (p = 0.04).
A structured and well-planned exercise intervention program can have a large effect on the physical performance of pretrained breast cancer survivors. Moreover, it can increase the body image and decrease the arm symptoms in this population.