Late breast cancer treatment-related symptoms and functioning: associations with physical activity adoption and maintenance during a lifestyle intervention for rural survivors



Physical activity may be difficult for survivors with poorer functioning following primary treatment. The study examined whether late symptoms of breast cancer treatment impact PA adoption (0–6 months) and maintenance (6–18 months) during a weight management intervention, and whether late symptoms influence PA when accounting for overall functioning.


Secondary analyses were conducted using a sample of survivors participating in a weight management intervention and who provided valid weight and accelerometer data at baseline and 6 months (N = 176). The Breast Cancer Prevention Trial Symptom Checklist (BCPT) assessed late treatment-related symptoms. SF-12 Physical Component Scale (PCS) and Mental Component Scale (MCS) scores assessed functioning.


Change in bouted moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) min/week from baseline to 6 months was not associated with BCPT scales (all p values > 0.05). When adding SF-12 scores to the model, change in bouted MVPA min/week was significantly associated with the PCS (p = 0.045). Change in MVPA min/week from 6 to 18 months was significantly associated with cognitive symptoms (p = 0.004), but not musculoskeletal or vasomotor symptoms (p values > 0.05). When adding 6-month SF-12 scores to the model, MVPA min/week was significantly associated with PCS (p = 0.001) and MCS (p = 0.028); however, BCPT cognitive problems score became non-significant (p > 0.05).


Poorer physical functioning was associated with lower PA adoption, and poorer mental and physical functioning was associated with lower maintenance of PA, while late symptoms generally were not. Interventionists should consider level of functioning when identifying individual PA goals during weight management interventions.

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Physical activity


Breast Cancer Prevention Trial Symptom Checklist


Moderate to vigorous physical activity


Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form 12


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Correspondence to Christie Befort.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in the study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The research was approved by the University’s Institution Review Board and informed consent was obtained from all participants. The study is compliant with U.S. laws for research and ethics.

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Data availability

The dataset for the current study is available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Fazzino, T.L., Klemp, J. & Befort, C. Late breast cancer treatment-related symptoms and functioning: associations with physical activity adoption and maintenance during a lifestyle intervention for rural survivors. Breast Cancer Res Treat 168, 755–761 (2018) doi:10.1007/s10549-017-4603-z

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  • Late treatment-related symptoms
  • Physical activity
  • Breast Cancer Prevention Trial Symptom Checklist
  • Breast cancer survivors