REJOIN Trial for Older Breast Cancer Survivors (REJOIN)

  • End date
    Dec 15, 2023
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
Updated on 15 May 2022
breast cancer
aromatase inhibitor


The purpose of this pilot intervention study is to test the effectiveness of a self-management approach (combining education- and exercise-based strategies) for improving arthralgia (joint pain) associated with Aromatase Inhibitors (AI) in older breast cancer survivors. Survivors will be recruited from local cancer clinics prior to the completion of primary cancer treatment, as arthralgia can occur soon after initiating AI medication. Participants will be randomized to one of two groups: an enhanced standard care group (AI prescription plus information) or a treatment group (educational classes plus group exercise sessions). Older survivors (≥60 years) will be targeted because they are at increased risk of medication complications which may impede adherence. For the baseline assessment, a cancer-specific geriatric assessment will be conducted and a blood sample will be collected to interpret the effects of the self-management study in the context of geriatric experiences. Additionally, there will be an assessment of knowledge, PA habits, and AI-related joint pain and AI adherence. These will be measured again at 4, 6 and at follow up at 12 months.


To improve AIA and AI Adherence in older survivors, it will: first, adapt an evidence-based intervention (AIM 1) and then; test the adapted intervention with breast cancer survivors ≥65 years. The Investigators will educate survivors about possible AI-related side effects and teach survivors ways to use PA to self-manage AIA (AIM 2), and support adherence to hormonal therapy recommendations (AIM 3). Given evidence that survivors experience AIA soon after initiating hormonal therapy, potentially eligible participants would be identified early in the treatment process. By identifying potential participants after diagnosis or during active treatment, survivors would have a minimal delay in beginning the exercise intervention after initiating hormonal therapy (i.e. AIs). All participants will have completed surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy, which is consistent with current ASCO guidelines for AI use.

Two groups will be randomized to either an information-only group (enhanced standard care) or an education plus exercise group (treatment). At the initial clinical visit during the intervention, participants in both groups will receive printed information along with their AI medication prescription. The treatment group will subsequently receive a one-on-one exercise consultation with a certified exercise trainer (e.g ACSM or similar), followed by a modified version of the Fit & Strong! program, which includes bi-weekly supervised exercise (60 minutes) and educational sessions (30 minutes).

The exercise sessions will include light weights or resistance bands plus low-impact aerobic exercise, in which movements will be explained, demonstrated and modified based on the needs of participants. The exercise protocol will be reviewed and revised based on recommendations from clinical advisers. Educational materials will provide information about the purpose of AI medications (e.g., to reduce cancer recurrence) in layperson language and basic information about potential side effects. As part of in-person sessions, participants will develop a plan to continue exercise at home. Participants can do an activity of their choice (e.g., walking) and use resistance bands which will be provided for the at-home program which will begin after 8 weeks and will include follow up phone calls to assess progress and reinforce the program. Educational sessions will be modified to reflect relevant content and advice for older survivors beginning AIs. Assessments will be taken at 4 and 6 months, with follow up at 12 months.

All supervised exercise sessions will be conducted remotely to accommodate recommended COVID safety protocols.

Condition Breast Cancer Female
Treatment Relieving Joint Pain and Improving AI Adherence in Older Breast Cancer Survivors (REJOIN)
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03955627
SponsorMilton S. Hershey Medical Center
Last Modified on15 May 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Female, aged ≥ 60 years at the start of study
Planning to initiate AIs
Diagnosed stages I-III Breast Cancer
ER+ tumor (at least 5% of cells)
Completed surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy
Independent ambulatory (verified by treating clinician/staff)
Physician approval to start an exercise program
Must report insufficient physical activity (<150 min. of physical activity per week)
Able to complete surveys and forms/ understand English
Agree to random assignment to exercise or control group
Can commit to 8 weeks, bi-weekly classes offered by Zoom video 12 Must have internet access and/or data plan by which to participate in Zoom video sessions
Minimum cognitive impairment (verified by cognitive screening questions administered by phone or in-person interview)

Exclusion Criteria

Already taking AIs (may participate if 24 weeks or less after initiating)
Presence of metastatic cancer or concurrent malignancy requiring treatment
Recent history (past 6 months) of stroke/ MI, atrial fibrillation or class 3, 4 heart failure
Recent joint surgery or conditions limiting PA
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