Effect of dance on cancer-related fatigue and quality of life



Cancer-related fatigue is a multidimensional symptom with an underestimated prevalence and severity in cancer patients. The aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of dance as a holistic sportive activity in cancer patients under active anticancer treatment with fatigue as endpoint.

Patients and methods

Forty patients under active anticancer treatment (adjuvant (25), palliative (11) or neoadjuvant (4)) with moderate or severe fatigue (≥4 on the visual analogue scale) were investigated in two groups for severity of fatigue (visual analogue scale, Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy: Fatigue questionnaire), quality of life (European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer, Quality of Life Questionnaire) and physical performance (6-minute walk test) before and after the study period—group A (n = 20): intervention (10 dance classes in 5 weeks in addition to counselling) and group B (n = 20): control (no dance, standard of care, counselling).


We found significant improvements for cancer-related fatigue in the intervention group (baseline mean ± SD 5.95 ± 1.701, end-of-study mean 3.8 ± 1.542, p = 0.001, reduction of 36 %) compared to the control group (baseline mean 4.95 ± 0.999, end-of-study mean unchanged at 5.0 ± 1.556, p = 0.887); as well as for emotional and social functioning scales and physical performance (p < 0.05).


Dance might be an appropriate, effective approach for treatment of cancer-related fatigue.

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We thank PharmaMar, Madrid, for financial support of this study. We thank Kelvin O. Hardy, dancer, dance trainer and choreographer, Berlin, for expert choreographies and excellent dance training and Dr. Petra Jöstingmeyer, medunit GmbH, for editorial support.

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no competing interests and nothing to disclose.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Isrid Sturm.

Additional information

This study is registered in the DRKS 00004351 (Deutsches Register Klinischer Studien).

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Sturm, I., Baak, J., Storek, B. et al. Effect of dance on cancer-related fatigue and quality of life. Support Care Cancer 22, 2241–2249 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-014-2181-8

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  • Cancer-related fatigue
  • Cancer therapy
  • Side effect
  • Fatigue
  • Therapy
  • Dance