2011 – 2014

Mission Statement

To examine how exercise impacts breast cancer risk and recurrence through an interdisciplinary team and innovative design and methods.


In 2010, SWHR collaborated with the Susan G. Komen Foundation to launch an Interdisciplinary Network called the “SWHR-Susan G. Komen Network for the Study of Exercise and Breast Cancer.” The Network was comprised of experts from the fields of oncology, exercise physiology, epidemiology, statistics, pathology and patient advocacy.

This Network launched a pilot project called the “Pre-Operative Health and Body (PreHAB) Study,” led by Dr. Jenifer Ligibel from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Dr. Melinda Irwin from Yale University to explore the impact of exercise on tumor biology. It is known that women who exercise after receiving a breast cancer diagnosis have a lower risk of recurrence and mortality, but the biological causes for how exercise impacts breast cancer are unclear.

The PreHAB study looked at the impact of exercise on breast tumor tissue biomarkers in 49 inactive women with early stage breast cancer before and after an exercise intervention. This study was novel and unique as it was the first randomized study of testing the effect of exercise on breast tumor tissue using a pre-operative window of opportunity model. Preliminary results from this study provide some of the first evidence that exercise could directly impact the way the breast cancer cells grow. The results from this study were presented by Dr. Ligibel at three 2016 Annual meetings – the American Society for Clinical Oncology, the Society of Integrative Oncology and the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

According to Dr. Ligibel, “the PreHAB study, in the long run, will help us better understand how exercise can help prevent breast cancer occurrence.” Drs. Ligibel and Irwin will pursue this work with additional trials that test the impact of exercise on breast tumor tissue.

Please revisit this web page as we continue to update study progress.


  • Jennifer A. Ligibel, MD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Network Chair)
  • Melinda L. Irwin, PhD, Yale University (Network Co-Chair)
  • Anees B. Chagpar, MD, FRCS(C), FACS, Yale University
  • Deborah A. Dillon, MD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Elizabeth Frank, EdM, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Anita Giobbie-Hurder, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Anne McTiernan, M.D., PhD, University of Washington

Susan G. Komen & SWHR-Funded Project

  • “Impact of physical activity on breast tissue biomarkers in women with early stage breast cancer.” Awarded to Jennifer A. Ligibel and Melinda L. Irwin, 2011-Present