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A review of the impact of exercise on treatment-related fatigue among patients receiving adjuvant radiotherapy for breast cancer

  • Fiona McNally (a1), Paul H. Shepherd (a2) and Terri Flood (a2)



To evaluate the use of exercise in managing fatigue in breast cancer patients undergoing adjuvant radiotherapy. To explore the effectiveness of different exercise practices and explore how optimum management of fatigue might be achieved.


A CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature) database search of literature was undertaken and publications screened for retrieval with 24 qualifying for inclusion in the review.


There is evidence to support various forms of exercise including aerobic, resistance, alternative and combination exercise in the management of fatigue in early stage breast cancer patients undergoing adjuvant radiotherapy. The benefits of exercise for patients with later stage and metastatic disease is less clear and there is a lack of published research related to this category of patient.


Exercise is considered a safe, non-pharmacological intervention for early stage breast cancer patients receiving adjuvant radiotherapy. Further investigation is required into optimum exercise interventions and the effectiveness and viability of supervised and unsupervised models. Patient centred tailored advice and guidance needs to be developed and effectively promoted by therapeutic radiographers in order for patients to fully realise the benefit.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Paul H Shepherd, School of Health Sciences, Ulster University, Newtownabbey, County Down, BT37 0QB, Northern Ireland, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 28 9036 6233. E-mail:


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Cite this article: McNally F, Shepherd PH, Flood T. (2019) A review of the impact of exercise on treatment-related fatigue among patients receiving adjuvant radiotherapy for breast cancer. Journal of Radiotherapy in Practice18: 295–300. doi: 10.1017/S1460396918000754



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1. Cancer Research UK. Breast Cancer Statistics. 2015. Accessed on 21st October 2018.
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A review of the impact of exercise on treatment-related fatigue among patients receiving adjuvant radiotherapy for breast cancer

  • Fiona McNally (a1), Paul H. Shepherd (a2) and Terri Flood (a2)


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