University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) researchers are conducting a pilot study of a couples ballroom dance intervention for women who are breast, colorectal, endometrial and ovarian cancer survivors, and their partners. Investigators hope to learn whether this easily accessible activity has an impact on quality of life issues following cancer, specifically physical fitness and relationship intimacy.
The study is actively enrolling women who have completed treatment, are married or partnered for more than one year and are age 19 and older. This couples-based dance intervention requires four compensated clinic visits with no medical procedures. Participants will receive 10 weeks of ballroom dance lessons at no cost to them.
“We know from previous research that physical activity improves the wellbeing of cancer survivors and helps them battle effects of the disease such as fatigue,” said the study’s co-principal investigator Michelle Martin, Ph.D., associate professor in the UAB Division of Preventive Medicine and a scientist with the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. “But these women also have partners who are coping with their diagnosis. This study was designed with both in mind.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of death among women in the United States, and it is the most deadly of all gynecologic cancers. When ovarian cancer is detected early, before it has spread beyond the ovaries, more than 90 percent of women will survive beyond five years. Endometrial cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, is the most common women’s reproductive cancer. When it is detected early, the five-year survival rate is greater than 90 percent.
“There is a lot of information on interventions for improving the quality of life of breast cancer survivors, but little has been done with ovarian and endometrial cancer survivors,” said the study’s co-principal investigator Maria Pisu, Ph.D., associate professor in the UAB Division of Preventive Medicine and a scientist with the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Our ultimate goal is improved quality of life for these survivors too – not only in terms of their health, but in their relationship with their partner as well.”