Patients Can Benefit from Post-Surgery Exercise

“Previous studies have demonstrated that exercise can benefit cancer survivors but lung cancer patients have been a particularly challenging group, because surgery on the lung was perceived to have a restrictive effect on the amount of exercise a person can do,” said Lee Jones, Ph.D., a researcher at Duke and lead investigator on the study. “Our study showed that this population can not only tolerate exercise but that it can lead to improved tolerance for exercise, and better quality of life.”

This study followed 20 newly diagnosed lung cancer patients, who had undergone surgery. Participants had been diagnosed with Stage I to Stage IIIb cancer. The patients were expected to participate in three hour-long exercise sessions per week, on stationary bikes.

The study lasted 14 weeks. The attendance rate for the exercise sessions was nearly 85 percent, and patients were less fatigued and gained greater aerobic fitness over the course of the study, as measured by what is known as a “maximal exercise test,” similar to the type Lance Armstrong performed prior to riding in the Tour De France. The test involves having a participant pedal until he can no longer tolerate it, and then measuring his oxygen levels by asking him to breathe into a device.

“What we found is that patients can stick with the regimen, and that they are functioning a lot better as a result,” Jones said. “Investigating the most effective type of exercise on changes in exercise tolerance, uncovering the mechanisms underlying these changes, and whether these changes can impact long-term survival will be the subject of subsequent studies.”; Source: Duke University Medical Center