Exercise Interventions in Advanced Lung Cancer Improved Functional Capacity

October 20, 2017

Participating in a 12-week physical exercise and psychosocial intervention improved the functional capacity of patients with advanced-stage lung cancer, which may result in improvement in quality of life, according to the results of a study presented at the World Conference on Lung Cancer.

Participating in a 12-week physical exercise and psychosocial intervention improved the functional capacity of patients with advanced stage lung cancer, which may result in improvement in quality of life, according to the results of a study presented at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer 18th World Conference on Lung Cancer, held October 15–18 in Yokohama, Japan.

“If we look at the impact of getting lung cancer there is no doubt that we know that you will have increased anxiety and depression levels and impaired quality of life, and that will increase your mortality,” said Morten Quist, PhD, of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

Previous research has shown that patients with advanced lung cancer experience a decline in functional capacity both after they are diagnosed and during treatment. In this study, Quist and colleagues tested whether exercise interventions would lead to increased functional capacity along with improved quality of life. 

They randomly assigned 218 patients undergoing chemotherapy for advanced lung cancer to either standard care or the intervention group. The intervention was a 12-week physician and psychosocial intervention, which included cardiovascular, strength, and relaxation training. At baseline and 12 weeks aerobic capacity, functional capacity, and quality of life were compared. Functional capacity was measured using the distance walked in a 6-minute walk.

Patients assigned to exercise had improved functional capacity at 12 weeks, although there was no group difference in these measures. The exercise group reported a significant improvement in quality of life whereas the control group had no change in quality of life. According to the researchers, the quality-of-life improvement in the exercise group was likely linked to the improvement in functionality.

“Improving or maintaining functional capacity means being able to take on activities of daily living and not burdening caregivers, which is what the majority of patients fear,” Quist said. “In this way, being as active as possible for as long as possible can reduce the potential burden and help patients experience a better quality of life.”