Exercise intervention for patients surgically treated for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC): A systematic review

Katy Crandall, Roma Maguire, Anna Campbell, Nora Kearney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Citations (Scopus)


Surgery remains the best curative option for appropriately selected patients with lung cancer. Evidence suggests that improving cardiovascular fitness and functional capacity can accelerate post-surgery recovery and reduce mortality. However, the effect of exercise intervention for patients surgically treated for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer [NCSLC] has not been fully examined.

This review examines the literature regarding exercise intervention for patients who are surgically treated for NSCLC focussing on three key areas: methodological quality, intervention design (e.g. duration, frequency, type) and outcomes measured.

A search of Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL and PsychINFO was undertaken. Randomised Controlled Trials [RCTs] and non-RCTs including exercise training pre or post lung cancer resection were included. Descriptive characteristics were extracted and methodological quality assessed using Downs and Black appraisal checklist.

Twenty studies (eight RCT's) were included: nine pre-surgical, nine post-surgical and two pre to post-surgical. The quality of evidence is questionable with many limitations (e.g. small samples, inadequate allocation concealment and a lack of clear reporting on timing, adverse events and follow-up). Regarding design of exercise intervention and outcomes measured, there was much variation between studies producing a disparate set of data. An optimal programme is still to be determined; however, suggestions are made relating to type of exercise (i.e. mixing aerobic, resistance and breathing exercises). Preliminary work from this review suggests that exercise intervention compared with usual care both pre and post-surgery is associated with improved cardiopulmonary exercise capacity, increased muscle strength and reduced fatigue, post-operative complications and hospital length of stay. Results concerning pulmonary function, quality of life, and blood gas analysis were variable and inconsistent.

In order to implement exercise intervention appropriate for patients surgically treated for NCSLC, more high quality randomised controlled trials are required and more work concerning feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of specific interventions on outcomes is warranted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-30
Number of pages14
JournalSurgical Oncology
Issue number1
Early online date24 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


Dive into the research topics of 'Exercise intervention for patients surgically treated for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC): A systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this