UW Carbone Cancer Center studying physical activity of cancer survivors

Clinical trial uses Fitbit to monitor activity

UW Carbone Cancer Center studying...

MADISON, Wis. - A clinical trial being conducted by the UW Carbone Cancer Center is looking at whether coaching, support and fitness trackers can change the activity level of cancer survivors.

The 12-week randomized trial will enroll 50 breast and colorectal cancer survivors.  Half will make up a control group while the remaining will participate in an intervention group.  Patients in the control group receive standard follow-up care and a survivorship plan.

Patients in the intervention group will receive the same care as the control group, but also will receive a Fitbit and online coaching.  The daily step count data from the Fitbit will be uploaded to the patients MyChart account and can be monitored by their physician.

“We have good evidence to suggest that women who are more active are less likely to develop breast cancer and also some pretty good evidence now suggests that physical activity after a diagnosis can be protecting of negative outcomes after a cancer diagnosis,” Lisa Cadmus-Bertram, PhD, an assistant professor of Kinesiology at the cancer center, said.

Currently when cancer patients complete their treatments they receive directions for exercising and eating healthy.  Typically however, is no follow-up support to monitor the patient.

“The difference is that, unlike something like a cardiac rehab where patients are given prescriptions and they are also given support and assistance in a program to help them with making those changes, with cancer typically there isn’t that type of support provided.  So they will get the recommendations but they are not going to get assistance in helping them make those changes,” Cadus-Bertram said.

Patients in the intervention group are also enrolled with support partners, such as a spouse or friend.  That role of the support partner is to motivate the patient to be physically active.

Mary Love-Patton, a breast cancer survivor, is part of the intervention group and her husband is her support partner.

“He has really embraced it and so we kind of have a little bit of competition at night because I’ll say, I got X amount of steps and he goes, 'Well, I’ve got this,'” Love-Patton said.

While she has only been participating in the clinical trial for two weeks, Love-Patton understands the difference a change in her physical activity can make.

“I mean I may not lose all the weight just with exercise but with diet and exercise I will and that decreases my risk factor,” Love-Patton said.

UW Carbone Cancer Center is still looking for breast and colorectal cancer survivors to participate in the clinical trial.  To participate, you must be a UW Health patient.  Those interested should contact their physician or Dr. Cadmus-Bertram at or by telephone at 608-262-1167.

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