Complete Research Studies

  • Understanding women’s preferences of different physiotherapy options after breast cancer surgery

We completed a study to understand the preferences women, who have undergone breast cancer surgery, have regarding upper body physiotherapy services. The results will help decision makers make informed health policy decisions about designing physiotherapy services meeting the needs of women after receiving breast cancer surgery.

The online survey:

The questions asked about what aspects of physiotherapy services were most important to you. The survey asked you to make a choice between different hypothetical scenarios involving upper body physiotherapy, considering aspects like when your first treatment appointment is received, the frequency of physiotherapy appointments, how the physiotherapy is delivered, and the cost of the service received.

Please go to to learn more.

Recruitment for this study is currently closed. With that being said, STAY TUNED, recruitment for this study will open again in the coming months.

  • True NTH

The True NTH lifestyle management initiative is a trial undertaken by Movember and Prostate Cancer Canada, designed as a community exercise feasibility study for prostate survivors. The 12-week program provides, twice weekly group supervised exercise sessions at community centers around Vancouver, and online access to educational materials for participants.

The program was run across Canada with Vancouver currently hosting 2 community centers at Creekside (Olympic Village) and Marpole (59th Ave) on either Monday/Wednesday’s or Tuesday/Thursdays.

  • Understanding the unique challenges of being a young woman with breast cancer: a qualitative study for developing a lifestyle intervention program.

In Canada, the average age at diagnosis of early stage breast cancer is between 50-69 years. However, approximately 18% of breast cancer diagnoses are in women 45 years or younger. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death and disability in Canadian women under 45 years of age.

Younger women with breast cancer face unique challenges in adoption of exercise and weight management practices when compared to those in older women, including financial concerns, competing daily demands (i.e., employment, relationships, young families), physical body changes, and social isolation.

Therefore, the development of interventions specifically tailored to younger women is warranted. The current study aims to form a focus group to gather more information about the challenges younger women with breast cancer face, and to gain a better understanding of what types of interventions are most effective in improving their quality of life through a lifestyle intervention.

This study is currently not recruiting participants.

If you would like more information, please click here.


British Columbia is in a unique position to be a leader in addressing the knowledge translation gap between exercise programming in cancer care and clinical practice. Currently, cancer care services are primarily delivered by the distributed sites of the BC Cancer Agency, which all reside in one health authority. This allows for a coordinated approach to knowledge translation that has provincial reach. Furthermore, BC is the only province to have a provincial tele-health system called HealthLink BC, which includes access to Qualified Exercise Professionals (QEP).

The SUCCESS BC project is partnering with the BC Cancer Agency to develop a model of service delivery that addresses key barriers to translation of a strong body of research into practice, by: 1) providing access to evidence-informed and vetted exercise information and guidance through QEP at HealthLink BC to extend the supportive care services available at BC Cancer Agency sites; and 2) a referral process for the healthcare professionals (HCP) of BC Cancer Agency to connect their patients to these services from a recognized, trusted source.

Recruitment for the SUCCESS BC project is now closed.

  • Exercise Influence on Taxane Side effects (EXIT) Study

The EXIT Study is looking at the influence of combined aerobic, strength and balance training on side effects of taxane chemotherapy. Taxane chemotherapy is frequently prescribed among women with breast cancer and is associated with negative side-effects including fatigue, nausea, peripheral neuropathy and potentially autonomic nervous system changes and other cardiovascular complications.

Recruitment for the EXIT study is now closed.

  • The Effects of Exercise Before Doxorubicin Chemotherapy on Cardiac Function

In rodents, a single bout of exercise prior to injection of a chemotherapy agent used to treat breast cancer prevents or attenuates a number of markers of cardiac injury. This study will investigate whether this finding translates to human breast cancer patients. Participants scheduled to receive chemotherapy for breast cancer will be randomized to exercise or no exercise 24 hours prior to every chemotherapy treatment. The effect on cardiac function will be compared between groups noninvasively by echocardiography and electrocardiography and a venous blood draw at baseline before chemotherapy, after the first treatment and at the end of chemotherapy.

If you are interested in participating and would like more information, please click here.

  • Does Exercise Training Prevent Anthracycline-Induced Deterioration Of Cardiac Mechanics In Breast Cancer Patients?

Women diagnosed with breast cancer may be at a heightened risk for cardiovascular diseases, due in part to the effects of cancer treatment on the heart. Numerous studies of rodents suggest that exercise training can prevent or decrease the extent of cardiac injury caused by a particular type of chemotherapy treatment used to treat breast cancer.  However, this has not yet been confirmed in studies of human cancer survivors. This study will use cardiac ultrasound to compare the changes in subtle indicators of heart function during chemotherapy treatment between a group of breast cancer patients who perform exercise training and a group of women who do not.

If you are interested in participating and would like more information, please click here.

  • Prospective Surveillance of Arm Morbidity in Breast Cancer Rehabilitation

Up to 60% of women report at least 1 persistent arm issue following breast cancer treatment that adversely affects activities of daily living and quality of life. If recognized early and treated by physiotherapy promptly, there is a dramatic reduction in the incidence and severity of arm impairment. Unfortunately physiotherapy is currently not routinely provided as part of clinical care for breast cancer survivors. Our research team has engaged in an ongoing series of knowledge translations steps to address the overarching clinical question of how to
reduce arm impairment in women receiving surgery for breast cancer. Using the Knowledge to Action Process as proposed by Graham et al. we started with a clinical problem identified by local clinicians. 

This study is running at the Rapid Access Breast Clinic at Mt. St. Joseph’s Hospital, in Vancouver, BC.

Recruitment for this study has ended, but may re-open in the future. Stay tuned!

  • Nutrition and Exercise during adjuvant Treatment (NEXT) Study Implementation of a physician-referred exercise and healthy eating intervention as supportive care in breast cancer survivors

Past research by this research group and others has shown that there are benefits in reducing the side effects of cancer treatment and improving quality of life and physical fitness in women diagnosed with breast cancer who participate in supervised exercise during chemotherapy. However physical activity is currently not commonly part of supportive care in the management of breast cancer at BCCA and there are limited programs available in the community. Cancer survivors have also been identified to have unique barriers to participating in physical activity. The aim of the study is to offer a supervised exercise program and healthy eating information to women with newly diagnosed breast cancer (being treated with chemotherapy) over a 1-year period, to examine the health effects in a real life setting.

We will also examine the feasibility of delivering the intervention (an exercise and nutritional program) measuring the number of women who enroll, the number of women who stay in the program and their satisfaction with participating. Finally, a goal of the study is to collect blood samples that will be analyzed for markers that may be associated with cancer recurrence to see if the intervention may have promise in having long-term benefits in lowering the risk of cancer progression. The blood sample collection is an optional part of the study and you will receive a separate consent form for the blood collection. Few studies have gathered long-term data on health behaviours of women with breast cancer after completing an exercise and healthy eating program. Therefore this study will include measures of health behaviours and optional body measurements (body weight, waist and hip measures) at one year after the program is completed.

Recruitment for the current study has now been CLOSED!

For more information about the study, please click here.

  • Pilot Study of Cognitive Function in Individuals Treated with Adjuvant FOLFOX Chemotherapy for Colon Cancer

The main goal of the study is to determine if subjects with colon cancer who are receiving 5FU/Oxaliplatin based chemotherapy are affected by cognitive dysfunction. It is unknown whether 5FU/Oxaliplatin causes cognitive dysfunction.  At the present time, cognitive dysfunction caused by chemotherapy has been largely explored in breast cancer patients. This type of study involves only a small number of subjects and therefore the results can only used as a guide for further larger studies. There is no guarantee that a larger study will be done and is not expected that the participants will benefit from taking part in this feasibility or pilot study, although the knowledge gained may help to develop future studies that may benefit others.

If you are interested in participating and would like more information, please click here.

  • Access to Physical Rehabilitation Services for Cancer Survivors in British Columbia

Cancer survivors frequently experience numerous unique health complications associated with cancer treatment, many of which are responsive to an appropriate physical rehabilitation program. However, although the benefits of physical rehabilitation for cancer populations are well documented, many cancer survivors remain unable to access the rehabilitation services they require. Furthermore, little is currently known regarding the provision of physical rehabilitation services for cancer survivors in British Columbia, making an investigation specific to British Columbia’s cancer rehabilitation programs warranted.

The goal of this study is to establish a comprehensive understanding of the current oncology rehabilitation services available within the public healthcare system in British Columbia. Ultimately, we hope to establish potential solutions for increasing the availability of oncology rehabilitation programs and to work toward ensuring a minimal standard for the content of oncology rehabilitation services provided in British Columbia’s public healthcare system.

If you would like more information, please click here.

  • Night-time Compression for Breast Cancer Related Lymphedema (LYNC): A Randomized Controlled Efficacy Trial

The Night-time Compression for Breast Cancer Related Lymphedema Trial (LYNC), funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, is testing if night-time compression, through self-applied compression bandaging (CB) or use of a night-time compression system garment (NCSG) is helpful in controlling arm lymphedema, sleep, arm function and quality of life.

We currently have 25 women enrolled and are aiming for another 15 women to participate.

Benefits to participants: Through participation, all participants will receive a NCSG through being part of the study and can keep this after completion of the study

If you would like more information, please click here.

  • Reliability and Validity of Self-measured Arm Circumference in Women with Breast Cancer

We are conducting this study to see if women who have had breast cancer can measure their own arm circumference as accurately as an experienced physiotherapist. If the measures are accurate, self-measurement may be a way for women in the future to self-monitor for any onset of new arm swelling or change in lymphedema. This may inform more streamlined referral to treatment when needed. The study, which is funded by the Canadian Physiotherapy Foundation, involves one visit at UBC Hospital of about one hour.

We currently have 32 women enrolled and aim to include 40 women in total.

If would like more information, please click here.

  •  A focus group on understanding the barriers to and preferences for physical activity in female shift workers.

Shiftwork is a Group 2A carcinogen and has been linked with increased breast cancer incidence. Low levels of physical activity has been hypothesized as a mechanism contributing to this increased risk, and shift workers have been shown to be less likely than day workers to be physically active. Shift workers experience unique barriers to fitting physical activity into their day to day life due to time constraints related to their irregular shift schedule. We are currently developing a physical activity program designed for shift workers, but would like to know more about what prevents shift workers from being active, and what types of things would help them to become more active.

We are currently conducting focus groups with women who have worked shiftwork for the past 2 years to learn more about this topic. Participation in the study requires one 2-hour visit to the University of British Columbia where you will discuss these topics with other women who work shiftwork. All participants will receive a small honorarium to thank them for their time.

If would like more information, please click here.

  •  The Impact of Lifestyle on Healthy Breast Tissue

Each year in Canada, over 22,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer.  There is consistent evidence from population-level studies that higher levels of physical activity and avoidance of overweight/obesity lower the risk of breast cancer, particularly after menopause. However, the biological mechanisms underlying this association are not clear. The levels of sex hormones, insulin, and other biological markers in blood have provided some important information, but little is known about the effect of lifestyle on the breast tissue itself.  The goal of this project is to better understand how lifestyle factors can impact the biology of breast tissue, specifically the fat tissue in the breast that surrounds the milk ducts and glands.

If you would like more information, please click here.

  • The Efficacy of Pelvic Floor Muscle Training in Gynecological Cancer Survivors:  A Pilot Study

One of the most common and distressing side effects of treatment of gynecological cancer is issues with urinary symptoms, such as urgent need to urinate or urine leakage.  Pelvic floor muscle training has been shown to improve urinary symptoms in women who had not had cancer.  However, it is not clear if pelvic floor muscle training is as effective in improving the urinary issues reported by gynecological cancer survivors, who may have experience changes in the pelvic floor tissue with surgery or cancer treatments, such as radiation.  In current clinical practice, women who have been treated for gynecological cancers report that they are seldom asked about urinary issues by health care providers or provided with information regarding treatment.   In order to argue that physiotherapy services should be included as part of clinical care, it is important to determine if pelvic floor muscle training is effective in women following treatment for gynecological cancer to improve urinary symptoms.  The study will test the effect of a pelvic floor muscular training intervention led by a physiotherapist versus a written education pamphlet of pelvic floor exercises (usual care control) on urinary leak (incontinence), quality of life and sexual health in women who report urinary urgency and incontinence following surgery and radiation treatment for gynecological cancer.  The aim is to recruit 40 women.

If you would like more information, please click here.