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Deterioration in physical activity and function differs according to treatment type in non-small cell lung cancer – future directions for physiotherapy management

Abstract

Objectives

To investigate in non-surgically and surgically treated non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC): (1) changes in physical activity, function, health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and symptoms after diagnosis; and (2) the association between physical activity and outcomes.

Design

Prospective observational study.

Setting

Three acute tertiary hospitals.

Participants

Sixty-nine individuals (43 male, median [IQR] age 68 [61 to 74] years) with stage I–IV NSCLC.

Main outcome measures

The primary outcome (Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly) and secondary outcome (six-minute walk test and questionnaires assessing HRQoL, function, symptoms, mood) were measured at diagnosis (pre-treatment), and eight to ten weeks post-diagnosis (post-operative and/or during chemotherapy/radiotherapy).

Results

Individuals treated surgically (n = 27) experienced a deterioration in physical activity levels (baseline median [IQR] = 74 [51 to 135]; follow-up median [IQR] = 29 [24 to 73]; median difference = 45, effect size = 0.3). At follow-up physical activity was inversely related to depression, pain and appetite loss (rho > 0.5, p < 0.05). In contrast non-surgical individuals (n = 42) did not experience a change in physical activity, however did experience deterioration in function, functional capacity, global HRQoL, fatigue and dyspnoea. Physical activity levels were low in this group and at follow-up the strongest relationships with physical activity levels were global HRQoL, function, fatigue and mood (inverse, rho > 0.5, p < 0.05).

Conclusions

Surgically treated individuals experienced a reduction in physical activity levels after diagnosis, which was not seen in the non-surgical group. Lower physical activity levels were associated with poorer outcomes, particularly in non-surgically treated individuals. Further research is required to establish the optimal intervention to improve physical activity levels in these cohorts.

Cite this article

Deterioration in physical activity and function differs according to treatment type in non-small cell lung cancer – future directions for physiotherapy management

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