Exercise trial aims to help women with recurrent ovarian cancer

Griffith University researchers are conducting a world-leading trial assessing the role of exercise as therapy for women with recurrent ovarian cancer.

“Women with recurrent ovarian cancer report high treatment-related side effects and unmet supportive care needs. The aim of treatment for these women is to improve length and quality of life,” says lead researcher Professor Sandi Hayes, a world-leading exercise oncology scientist with Menzies Health Institute Queensland.

Professor Sandi Hayes

“More than 1500 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year, with more than half developing recurrent disease.

“The aim of the trial is to determine whether exercise during treatment of recurrent ovarian cancer is safe and feasible (that is, is exercise during chemotherapy for ovarian cancer acceptable and possible for women), and if so, to what extent is exercise beneficial to function, fitness, psychosocial wellbeing and overall quality of life.”

Delivered by exercise professionals with expertise in cancer, the ECHO-R trial spans six months and starts immediately following a baseline assessment. It involves up to 12 sessions with an exercise professional who will guide each woman through the exercises.

To accommodate as many women as possible, irrespective of where they live, the sessions will mostly be conducted via phone. Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Face-to-Face options will be provided when possible.

The trial is open to all women diagnosed with recurrent ovarian cancer (including those with rare subtypes who are typically excluded from participating in clinical trials), and receiving or are about to receive chemotherapy.

“While evidence shows that exercise can improve lives during and following treatment for our common cancers such as breast, colorectal and prostate, there’s an urgent need to determine whether it’s the same for those with less common cancers, such as ovarian cancer,’’ Professor Hayes said.

“If we can prove exercise enhances the quality and quantity of life of women with ovarian cancer, while reducing health care and personal costs, it will influence clinical practice guidelines internationally because this can be implemented into standard cancer care quickly and inexpensively.”