'Prehab' program boosts fitness of patients with cancer

the ONA take:

Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed a fitness program that speeds recovery for cancer patients, with the goal of returning them to a pre-treatment level of fitness in approximately 6 weeks.

Treatment with chemotherapy or chemoradiotherapy before surgery can reduce the fitness level of patients with cancer. The researchers, led by Professor Mike Grocott, evaluated this decline, and also investigated the effect of specially tailored exercise programs enacted after a patient’s chemotherapy treatment but before surgery.

They discovered that supervised bicycle training, some three times a week, helped to not only prevent the expected fitness decline, but also returned patients to pre-treatment fitness levels within 6 week’s time. Improvements in stay and readmission rates, as well as a decrease in cardiorespiratory complications, were observed. Patients that did not participate experienced the expected fitness level decline.

In previous fitness programs, exercise takes place after the cancer operation or operations; in this case, the individualized exercise programs were purposefully administered before surgery. The researchers termed the process a“prehabilitation” program. Professor Grocott is hopeful that participation in such individualized programs, pre-surgery, could improve outcomes, but further research with a larger sample size is required to prove this theory.

Why exercise improves prostate cancer outcomes
Researchers have developed a fitness program that speeds recovery for cancer patients.

Doctors and scientists in Southampton can return cancer patients to pre-treatment fitness levels within six weeks using a novel 'prehabilitation' programme. Led by Professor Mike Grocott, researchers at the NIHR Southampton Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit studied the effect of tailored exercise programmes on bowel cancer patients after chemotherapy and radiotherapy but before surgery.

In the UK in 2012, more than 9,000 people were diagnosed with the rectal form of bowel cancer and three-quarters underwent major surgery with a death rate of 3.2%.

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