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Exercise as a treatment for chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy in women with breast cancer (ref: RDF20/SER/TEMESI)

Project Description

The Department of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation at Northumbria University, Newcastle has a global reputation for academic excellence that is underpinned by a vibrant, high quality research-rich environment. Our work is encapsulated within three integrative research themes; 1) Optimising Human Performance; 2) Promoting and Preserving and Health and Well-being; and 3) Informing Practice and Policy. We are seeking enthusiastic and talented PhD candidates for the following project.

Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is an adverse side-effect of many anti-neoplastic agents including taxanes, often manifesting as loss of sensory function, paraesthesia, numbness or pain in the hands and feet. Options for CIPN management are currently limited and although exercise has recently been proposed to reduce symptoms, it is a challenge for cancer patients to engage in exercise during treatment due to fatigue and other treatment-related side-effects. This PhD project will comprise a number of linked studies in women receiving chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. The feasibility of assessing peripheral nerve function, functional ability and disease-specific quality of life at various time points during and after chemotherapy treatment will be evaluated initially, before investigating the feasibility and early efficacy of embedding an exercise programme within the treatment pathway. This project is a collaboration between exercise physiologists at Northumbria University and clinical colleagues at the Newcastle University Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Applicants should have a keen interest in studying the health benefits of structured exercise and physical activity in people living with and beyond cancer.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF20/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Friday 24 January 2020
Start Date: 1 October 2020

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home/EU students with a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2019/20, this is £15,009 pa) and full fees.


Ndjavera W, Orange ST, O'Doherty AF, Leicht AS, Rochester M, Mills R, Saxton JM. (2019) Exercise-induced attenuation of treatment side-effects in patients with newly diagnosed prostate cancer beginning androgen-deprivation therapy: a randomised controlled trial. BJU Int doi: 10.1111/bju.14922.

Lemanska A, Poole K, Griffin BA, Manders R, Saxton JM, Turner L, Wainwright J, Faithfull S. (2019) Community pharmacy lifestyle intervention to increase physical activity and improve cardiovascular health of men with prostate cancer: a phase II feasibility study. BMJ Open 9:e025114.

Twomey R, Martin T, Temesi J, Culos-Reed N, Millet GY. (2018) Tailored exercise interventions to reduce fatigue in cancer survivors: study protocol of a randomized controlled trial. BMC Cancer 18:757.

Banerjee S, Manley K, Shaw B, Lewis L, Cucato G, Mills R, Rochester M, Clark A, Saxton JM. (2018) Vigorous intensity aerobic interval exercise in bladder cancer patients prior to radical cystectomy: a feasibility randomised controlled trial. Support Care Cancer 26:1515-1523.

Bourke L, Gilbert S, Hooper R, Steed LA, Joshi M, Catto JW, Saxton JM, Rosario DJ. (2014) Lifestyle changes for improving disease-specific quality of life in sedentary men on long-term androgen-deprivation therapy for advanced prostate cancer: a randomised controlled trial. European Urology 65:865-872.

Saxton JM, Scott EJ, Daley AJ, Woodroofe MN, Mutrie N, Crank H, Powers HJ, Coleman RE. (2014) Effects of an exercise and hypocaloric healthy eating intervention on indices of psychological health status, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis regulation and immune function after early-stage breast cancer: a randomized controlled trial. Breast Cancer Research 16:R39

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