Are you a postmenopausal woman who has been diagnosed with stage 0, 1, 2, or 3a breast cancer, and has not yet begun treatment with an aromatase inhibitor such as anastrozole (Arimidex®), letrozole (Femara®), or exemestane (Aromasin®)? If so, you may be able to participate in a research study to find out if physical activity can prevent thinking and memory problems. Compensation provided.


Some women with breast cancer experience changes in their ability to concentrate and remember during the course of their disease and treatment. While there are currently no known methods to prevent or treat these thinking and memory problems, exercise may be the most promising approach.

Exercise has been shown to lessen symptoms frequently experienced during cancer treatment such as fatigue, depression, anxiety, sleep problems and stress. For survivors of breast cancer, there is also some evidence that exercise may improve survival.

The purpose of this study is to find out if moderate amounts of physical activity can prevent thinking and memory problems that can occur in women with breast cancer who are being treated with aromatase inhibitors. Aromatase inhibitors are drugs that block your body’s ability to make estrogen, and are commonly used to treat postmenopausal women with breast cancer. Researchers hope their findings will improve the quality of life for women with breast cancer.


•    Ages 18-79
•    Postmenopausal
•    Diagnosed with stage 0, 1, 2, or 3a breast cancer
•    No history of other cancers (non-melanoma skin cancers like basal or squamous cell ok)
•    Have not yet started aromatase inhibitor therapy such as anastrozole (Arimidex®), letrozole (Femara®), or exemestane (Aromasin®)


Participation lasts up to 7 months, and includes an initial 2-part screening assessment that takes place before beginning aromatase inhibitor therapy. Part 1 takes about 2 hours and includes fitness testing and a blood draw. Part 2 (about 1 week later) takes 90 minutes and includes cognitive testing and answering questions. This can be done at home or in another location.

Some women will also complete an MRI scan to provide information about brain health. An MRI scan is similar to an x-ray but does not use radiation. All participants will also be asked to wear a small activity-monitoring armband for one week at home.

Following these assessments, qualified participants will be randomly assigned (like the flip of a coin) to either 1) usual care, or 2) an individualized exercise program guided and supervised by a certified exercise coach. The exercise is moderate in intensity, like brisk walking, and is consistent with the recommendations for cancer survivors made by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Cancer Society. Participants in the exercise group will attend supervised exercise sessions at community locations 3 times per week for 6 months.

  PRO15120433 - Exercise Program in Cancer and Cognition

Age Range
AGE:   18 - 79

Duration DURATION:  7 months
VISITS:  Multiple

Location LOCATION: 

Compensation COMPENSATION: 
Up to $340

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Kirk Erickson

Kirk Erickson, PhD, is a professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Erickson is the principal investigator at the Brain Aging and Cognitive Health (BACH) Lab, where he and his team study how the mind and brain change with age. By using a variety of measurement techniques, Dr. Erickson hopes to find ways to promote healthy mental aging. In his free time, Dr. Erickson enjoys traveling, spending time with family, salsa dancing, playing squash, and reading.

Catherine Bender

Catherine Bender, PhD, RN, FAAN, is professor and Nancy Glunt Hoffman Endowed Chair in Oncology Nursing at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Bender’s research focuses on how cancer and cancer therapy affect cognitive function. She and her team have identified changes in cognitive function in some women with breast cancer, including changes in concentration and memory. She has also uncovered factors that influence those changes. For fun, Dr. Bender spends time with her family, traveling, reading and restoring her 130+ year old house.


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