Effect of postoperative physical training on activity after curative surgery for non-small cell lung cancer: a multicentre randomised controlled trial

Physiotherapy. 2014 Jun;100(2):100-7. doi: 10.1016/j.physio.2013.12.002. Epub 2014 Feb 12.


Objective: To evaluate the effect of a combined hospital plus home exercise programme following curative surgery for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Design: Randomised controlled trial.

Setting: Teaching hospital.

Participants: One hundred and thirty-one subjects with NSCLC admitted for curative surgery.

Interventions: Participants were randomised to usual care or a hospital plus home exercise programme.

Outcomes: The primary outcome was the between-group difference in physical activity 4 weeks after surgery. Secondary outcomes were the difference in quadriceps strength, exercise tolerance and quality of life [Short Form-36 (SF-36) and European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) QLQ-LC13] from pre-operatively (baseline) to 4 weeks after surgery.

Results: The participants (n=131) had a mean age of 68 [standard deviation (SD) 11] years and mean forced expiratory volume in 1 second of 2.4 (SD 1.1)l. There were no significant differences in physical activity between the groups 4 weeks after surgery [mean difference adjusted for baseline 12minutes/day, 95% confidence interval (CI) -20.2 to 44.1]. In addition, there were no significant differences in total SF-36 or EORTC QLQ-LC13 scores from baseline to 4 weeks after surgery. Both groups had recovered their pre-operative walking distance 4 weeks after surgery, and there were no differences between the groups (mean difference in Incremental Shuttle Walk Test from baseline to 4 weeks after surgery (-26m, 95% CI -94.2 to 42.3).

Conclusions: A hospital plus home exercise programme showed little benefit in unselected patients with NSCLC following surgery. Regardless of group allocation, the patients had recovered their pre-operative exercise tolerance levels by 4 weeks after surgery.

Keywords: Exercise; Non-small cell lung cancer; Surgery; Thoracotomy.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / rehabilitation*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / surgery*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Exercise Tolerance
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / rehabilitation*
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength
  • Quality of Life

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN07216922