HealthDay News — Preoperative exercise halves the rate of postoperative complications in patients with lung cancer, according to a review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Daniel Steffens, PhD, from the University of Sydney, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature search to identify studies investigating the effectiveness of preoperative exercise on outcomes among oncology patients undergoing surgery for any type of cancer.

Based on 17 articles (reporting on 13 trials involving 806 participants with 6 different tumor types), the researchers found moderate-quality evidence demonstrating that preoperative exercise significantly reduced postoperative complication rates (relative risk, 0.52) and length of hospital stay (mean difference, −2.86 days) in patients undergoing lung resection vs controls. 

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Preoperative exercise did not reduce length of hospital stay in patients with esophageal cancer. Assessed only in individual studies, preoperative exercise improved postoperative quality of life in patients with oral or prostate cancer. There was no effect found in patients with colon and colorectal liver metastases.

“Whether preoperative exercise reduces complications, length of hospital stay, and improves quality of life in other groups of patients undergoing oncological surgery is uncertain as the quality of evidence is low,” the authors wrote.

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Steffens D, Beckenkamp PR, Hancock M, Soloman M, Young J. Preoperative exercise halves the postoperative complication rate in patients with lung cancer: a systematic review of the effect of exercise on complications, length of stay, and quality of life in patients with cancer [published online February 1, 2018]. Br J Sports Med. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2017-098032