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Pre-Op Exercise Training Safe for Patients with Lung Cancer

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NEW YORK AUG 22, 2007 (Reuters Health) - A relatively short aerobic exercise training program can improve lung cancer patients' physical fitness prior to surgery, US and Canadian researchers report in the August 1st issue of Cancer.

"Among individuals diagnosed with lung cancer," lead investigator Dr. Lee W. Jones told Reuters Health, "pre-surgical cardiorespiratory fitness level -- physical fitness -- is strongly associated with the rate and severity of surgical complications."

"Not surprisingly," he added, "patients with higher physical fitness levels have fewer complications."

Based on these findings, Dr. Jones of Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina and colleagues conducted a pilot study of 20 pre-surgical patients who underwent 4 to 6 weeks of training. This involved 5 cycle ergometry sessions per week at intensities ranging from 60% to 100% of peak oxygen consumption (VO2 peak).

The overall adherence was 72%. This ranged from 0 to 100%, and patients completed a mean of 30 sessions. Those who completed 80% or more of the sessions achieved a significant increase in VO2 peak and their 6 minute walk distance increased by 49 meters.

"Exploratory analyses indicated that presurgical exercise capacity decreased postsurgery, but did not decrease beyond baseline values," the investigators report.

Thus, continued Dr. Jones, "Our study demonstrated that exercise training was associated with significant improvements in physical fitness and other markers of cardiovascular health."

"While this study was too small to examine if the observed improvements in physical fitness were associated with reductions in surgical complications," he added, "this benefit may have important implications for the selection of patients eligible for lung surgery, complications from surgery, and recovery following surgery."

"Future studies," Dr. Jones concluded, "are now required to answer these questions."

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