Short-term postoperative physical decline and patient-reported recovery in people aged 70 or older undergoing abdominal cancer resection- A prospective cohort study

J Geriatr Oncol. 2019 Jul;10(4):610-617. doi: 10.1016/j.jgo.2019.01.004. Epub 2019 Jan 18.


Objectives: Extensive physical deterioration as a consequence of both cancer and surgical treatment can lead to increased care needs and decreased well-being. Information on short-term physical decline and patient-reported recovery in older patients undergoing abdominal cancer surgery is still sparse. We aimed to describe the short-term changes and study the associations between preoperative physical performance and postoperative mobility, as well as patient-reported recovery in this patient group.

Materials and methods: Patients ≥70 years of age waiting for abdominal cancer surgery were included in a prospective cohort study. Physical performance tests were conducted preoperatively and on hospital discharge. Changes from baseline to postoperative values were described, logistic regressions were performed to explore the association between preoperative physical performance and postoperative mobility, and ordinal regression for the association between physical decline and patient-reported recovery.

Results: One-hundred forty individuals (mean age 76.0 ± 4.6 years) were included in the analyses. We found the greatest declines in functional leg strength (38%) and walking distance (33%). Twenty participants (15%) were unable to rise from a chair without support on discharge. In the multivariable analyses, better preoperative physical performance was associated with lower odds of limited mobility on discharge. A larger decline in gait speed was associated with greater odds of reporting lower postoperative recovery.

Conclusions: This study adds information regarding the magnitude of short-term physical decline and factors associated with postoperative mobility. It may be important to improve functional leg strength and physical capacity through exercise prior to abdominal cancer surgery to reduce postoperative physical decline.

Keywords: Functional decline; Geriatric oncology; Onco-geriatrics; Physical function; Self-reported recovery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Digestive System Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Digestive System Surgical Procedures*
  • Female
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mobility Limitation
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Physical Functional Performance*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Walk Test
  • Walking Speed*