Purpose: This study aimed to evaluate the long-term effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of high intensity (HI) versus low-to-moderate intensity (LMI) exercise on physical fitness, fatigue, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in cancer survivors. Methods: Two hundred seventy-seven cancer survivors participated in the Resistance and Endurance exercise After ChemoTherapy (REACT) study and were randomized to 12 weeks of HI (n = 139) or LMI exercise (n = 138) that had similar exercise types, durations, and frequencies, but different intensities. Measurements were performed at baseline (4–6 weeks after primary treatment), and 12 (i.e., short term) and 64 (i.e., longer term) weeks later. Outcomes included cardiorespiratory fitness, muscle strength, self-reported fatigue, HRQoL, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) and societal costs. Linear mixed models were conducted to study (a) differences in effects between HI and LMI exercise at longer term, (b) within-group changes from short term to longer term, and (c) the cost-effectiveness from a societal perspective. Results: At longer term, intervention effects on role (β = 5.9, 95% CI = 0.5; 11.3) and social functioning (β = 5.7, 95%CI = 1.7; 9.6) were larger for HI compared to those for LMI exercise. No significant between-group differences were found for physical fitness and fatigue. Intervention-induced improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness and HRQoL were maintained between weeks 12 and 64, but not for fatigue. From a societal perspective, the probability that HI was cost-effective compared to LMI exercise was 0.91 at 20,000€/QALY and 0.95 at 52,000€/QALY gained, mostly due to significant lower healthcare costs in HI exrcise. Conclusions: At longer term, we found larger intervention effects on role and social functioning for HI than for LMI exercise. Furthermore, HI exercise was cost-effective with regard to QALYs compared to LMI exercise. Trial registration: This study is registered at the Netherlands Trial Register [NTR2153 [http://www.trialregister.nl/trialreg/admin/rctview.asp?TC=2153]] on the 5th of January 2010. Implications for Cancer Survivors: Exercise is recommended to be part of standard cancer care, and HI may be preferred over LMI exercise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
Issue number3
Early online date1 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Exercise intensity
  • Fatigue
  • Neoplasms
  • Physical fitness
  • Quality of life

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