Feasibility and efficacy of presurgical exercise in survivors of rectal cancer scheduled to receive curative resection
Exercise Medicine Research Institute
Background Localized rectal carcinoma is invasive, with surgical resection the standard treatment. The aim of this study was to determine the feasibility of a supervised presurgical exercise intervention in patients with rectal cancer prior to rectal resection.
Patients and Methods Twelve patients volunteered to undertake twice-weekly aerobic and resistance exercise for ∼16 weeks prior to surgery. At baseline, presurgery, and ∼8 weeks postsurgery, muscle strength and physical performance, body composition, quality of life, and fatigue were assessed. Results Ten patients completed training, with 80% completing more than one-half of the exercise sessions. Muscle strength improved 9% to 29% at presurgery, although this was not statistically significant, and declined postsurgery (P < .05). Importantly, postsurgery strength levels were comparable with pretraining levels. Lean mass was preserved at presurgery despite neoadjuvant chemoradiation treatment, whereas postsurgery lean mass decreased (P < .05) compared with baseline (−3.2 ± 5.4 kg) and presurgery (−3.7 ± 5.4 kg). There were no substantial changes in quality of life or fatigue. Conclusion Presurgical exercise is feasible, leading to modest improvements in some outcomes despite chemoradiation treatment. The detrimental effects of surgery were evident, especially in relation to lean mass. As such, exercise may facilitate recovery by enhancing presurgery physical reserve capacity, thereby providing a buffer to declines following surgery.