A healthy lifestyle leads to better recovery during and after breast cancer treatment


Proposer: Alexander Monro Hospital
Implementation: 2016

Project description

Around 14,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. About a quarter of them are under 50. Breast cancer treatment is becoming increasingly successful, and the majority of patients have a good prognosis. However, both treatment and disease are far-reaching, both having a major impact on physical as well as psychosocial function, and getting back to work.

Scientific research has shown that adapting lifestyle and mindset early on leads to better recovery and therefore better quality of life in both the short and longer term. "Good aftercare starts with advance care."

We started two years ago with a project called 'nutrition advice for breast cancer patients having systemic therapy'. The aim of the project was, in particular, a survey of whether to give lifestyle advice, and how useful it is. The long-term aim is a lifestyle clinic giving advice about nutrition, exercise and mindset in order to:

  • improve quality of life

  • increase compliance in breast cancer treatment during systemic therapy

  • prevent cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis

  • prevent obesity as a risk factor in developing recurrent breast cancer as an outcome

The programme proved to be viable following an initial test on patients undergoing oesophageal or pancreatic resection, and their carers. The activities proved to be feasible and the carers did not find them too difficult. Patients indicated that they got a lot of support from having their relatives around, and were more satisfied with the hospitalisation than patients in a control group. Patients with carers around were also found to exercise, conduct breathing exercises, brush their teeth and undertake cognitive activities more often than the control group. These results are already promising, and as a next step, the AUMC wants to investigate the impact of the programme on patient clinical outcomes (readmissions and complications).


From patient satisfaction research following the nutrition advice, a large number of patients indicated that they were very satisfied with the advice (7.75) and more than 83% would also recommend the advice to other patients.

Improved lifestyle and mindset for women in the Alexander Monro Hospital, during systemic therapy, resulting in better quality of life for patients who are having or have had systemic therapy for breast cancer diagnosis.

Impact on the healthcare professional

The advice is given by hospital professionals. The professionals are also trained in this, and are happy if they can use their expertise in this area to benefit the patient.

One drawback of the project is that a group of care providers must be trained in order to give lifestyle consultation and advice. Another possible disadvantage is that additional healthcare providers have to be recruited.

Impact on healthcare institution

In doing this, the hospital is providing a unique service to patients with breast cancer. This improves their quality of life. It will also lead to a positive impression of a patient's hospital experience.

One drawback is that care providers need training to take part in the new outpatient clinic. Drawbacks can also include increased consultation times, and the need for extra workplaces.


Alexander Monro Hospital
Professor Bronckhorstlaan 10, gebouw 94
3723MB Bilthoven

Project contact person:
Miranda Ernst (oncologisch chirurg)

Other project team members:
Alda Bons (nurse)
Emine Goker (oncologist)
Judith Plat
Sissi Grosfeld