Skip to main content

Breast Cancer and Fitness

Kathleen Sturgeon, PhD, found what she was looking for at Penn Nursing – a fellowship that would combine basic science with clinical applications.

As a fellow at Penn’s Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics, Dr. Sturgeon conducted research in exercise physiology, working with Dr. Joseph Libonati, a leader in the field and director of the Penn Nursing Laboratory of Innovative and Translational Nursing Research.

In addition to studying the cellular implications of exercise on the heart, Dr. Sturgeon conducted a cardiac function study on women undergoing chemotherapy. “Chemotherapy has been shown to create a 10-year decrease in fitness capacity,” said Dr. Sturgeon. “My research question is: How does that affect the heart?”

Today, more breast cancer patients die of cardiovascular disease than of cancer reoccurrence, increasing the need for attention to cardiac health. In her study, Dr. Sturgeon investigated fitness capacity preceding chemotherapy to determine whether fitness level is a predictor of cardiovascular complications due to cancer treatment.