Current Research Studies

  • Aerobic exercise and CogniTIVe functioning in women with breAsT cancEr: the ACTIVATE trial

The aim of the ACTIVATE trial is to evaluate the impact of a supervised aerobic exercise intervention on chemotherapy-related cognitive changes (CRCC) in women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. Chemotherapy-related cognitive changes (CRCC) are reported by up to 75% of breast  cancer survivors during treatment and symptoms persist in 35% of survivors after treatment. Aerobic exercise is associated with improved quality of life in breast cancer survivors and holds promise as an intervention to prevent or mitigate CRCC.

We will soon be recruiting women with breast cancer who are receiving adjuvant chemotherapy to participate in the ACTIVATE study. The exercise intervention includes 3x weekly supervised aerobic exercise training for 12-16 weeks. All exercise programs are individually-tailored and supervised by staff who have experience working with cancer patients. For more information please contact Savanna Rowe at 604-827-1914 or email: or


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.

  • 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 is 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.

If you are a prostate cancer survivor and are interested in participating in a 12-week exercise program, 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 are interested in participating and 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 are interested in participating and 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 you are interested in participating and would like more information, please click here.

  • 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.

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

  • Colon Health and Life-Long Exercise Change (CHALLENGE) Trial

The CO.21 Colon Health and Life-Long Exercise Change (CHALLENGE) trial undertaken by the National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group (NCIC CTG) is designed to determine the effects of a structured physical activity intervention on outcomes for survivors of high-risk stage II or III colon cancer who have completed adjuvant therapy within the previous 2–6 months.  The trial is a multi-site trial across Canada and Australia.

The Trial is running at the BCCA-Vancouver site.  If you are being treated there for colon cancer and are interested in the trial, please talk to your oncologist.

For more information about the study, please click here.