Studies show exercise a benefit for lung cancer patients

Studies show exercise a benefit for lung cancer patients

Curtin University's Dr Vinicius Cavalheri said Australian doctors should prescribe supervised exercise more often for people soon to undergo lung cancer surgery. Photograph - Kelly Pilgrim-Byrne.

A Curtin University senior lecturer said international studies had shown Australian doctors should be prescribing supervised exercise for people who would soon undergo lung cancer surgery.

Curtin University School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science senior lecturer Dr Vinicius Cavalheri said the international findings suggested post-operation complications were cut by two thirds and in Australia could mean thousands of dollars per patient saved.

He said in Australia the trend of not prescribing preoperative exercise training for patients soon to undergo lung cancer surgery was one, which should be reversed.

“We see this in other parts of the world but in Australia it is not part of the current practice,” he said.

“Studies showed people who did not have exercise training before surgery stayed in hospital for an average of 12 days and people who received training before surgery had four less days in hospital.”

Dr Cavalheri was lead researcher on the review and worked with University of Melbourne senior lecturer Dr Catharine Granger to review the studies from the Brazil, China, Italy, Turkey and the United States of America.

He said their review demonstrated a clear benefit for people who had participated in preoperative supervised exercise prior to having lung cancer surgery.

Postoperative complications were usually a result of pulmonary complications, which could include pneumonia and respiratory failure.

“It’s very important for the hospital and the health system.

“One day in hospital costs about $1500. There is a definite economic benefit.”

Despite international studies, the area of research was still in its early stages and Dr Cavalheri said he and Dr Granger would review their work after a few years.

He said a major study had been published in Denmark since the release of their paper, which showed the level of interest in the area increasing.

“We really hope we’ll find more studies with better quality and we’ll have as stronger message for clinicians and patients,” he said.

Dr Cavalheri and Dr Granger’s review was published in the Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews and was supported buy the Cancer Council WA Postdoctoral Fellowship.