BACKGROUND: Patients with lung cancer often experience reduced functional capacity and quality of life after surgery. The current study investigated the impact of a short-term, home-based, multimodal prehabilitation program on perioperative functional capacity in patients undergoing video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) lobectomy for nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
METHODS: A randomized controlled trial was conducted with 73 patients. Patients in the prehabilitation group (n = 37) received a 2-week multimodal intervention program before surgery, including aerobic and resistance exercises, respiratory training, nutrition counseling with whey protein supplementation, and psychological guidance. Patients in the control group (n = 36) received the usual clinical care. The assessors were blinded to the patient allocation. The primary outcome was perioperative functional capacity measured as the 6-minute walk distance (6MWD), which was assessed at 1 day before and 30 days after surgery. A linear mixed-effects model was built to analyze the perioperative 6MWD. Other outcomes included lung function, disability and psychometric evaluations, length of stay (LOS), short-term recovery quality, postoperative complications, and mortality.
RESULTS: The median duration of prehabilitation was 15 days. The average 6MWD was 60.9 m higher perioperatively in the prehabilitation group compared to the control group (95% confidence interval [CI], 32.4–89.5; P < .001). There were no differences in lung function, disability and psychological assessment, LOS, short-term recovery quality, postoperative complications, and mortality, except for forced vital capacity (FVC; 0.35 L higher in the prehabilitation group, 95% CI, 0.05–0.66; P = .021).
CONCLUSIONS: A 2-week, home-based, multimodal prehabilitation program could produce clinically relevant improvements in perioperative functional capacity in patients undergoing VATS lobectomy for lung cancer.