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physiotherapy.asn.au

What is the literature telling us about exercise and lung cancer?

Exercise is very important for people with lung cancer. The literature

tells us that people with lung cancer experience terrible symptoms,

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levels, physical function and muscle strength decline rapidly after

diagnosis. Consequently, people with lung cancer have activity

limitations, participation restrictions, and diminished health-related

quality of life. Exercise is an incredibly powerful treatment to help

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in symptoms. Unfortunately, most people with lung cancer do not

do enough exercise and this has been shown in studies we have

conducted locally in Australia, as well as internationally.

Therefore, physiotherapists play a pivotal role in the management of

lung cancer to prescribe and promote exercise.

When did the body of research promoting exercise as

treatment emerge?

We have understood for a long time the importance of exercise

for patients with chronic respiratory disease, such as chronic

obstructive pulmonary disease. Australian physiotherapists have

been leaders in progressing the body of evidence supporting

pulmonary rehabilitation for this cohort. In addition, exercise for

patients with other types of cancer, such as breast cancer and

prostate cancer, is also very well established, and we know exercise

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for these groups. In comparison, the evidence for exercise in lung

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2000 and most studies in the area were only published in the last

12 years. The delay in research in lung cancer may in part be due

to the poor prognosis of this patient group. However, since this

time, there has been an explosion of research and a rapidly growing

evidence base showing how important exercise is. There are still

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registered on

clinicaltrials.gov.au

.

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evidence for exercise in other chronic respiratory diseases as

Issue 2 of the

Journal of Physiotherapy

featured an invited topical review from the University of Melbourne’s Dr

Catherine

Granger

, APAM, centred on physiotherapy management of lung cancer. Here, she answers some questions about

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well as other types of cancer. We now understand this is an area

physiotherapists need to focus on. We still have gaps in our

practice, in terms of people with lung cancer living in the community

(outside of the inpatient setting) accessing physiotherapy or

exercise programs.

Why do you think exercise training continues to be less

frequently performed as routine clinical practice, despite this

literature’s emergence?

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exercise programs. There are a small number of pulmonary

rehabilitation programs including patients with lung cancer, as well

as a small number of cancer rehabilitation programs in Australia;

however, overall services are minimal and many patients still do not

access the required healthcare.

Translating evidence into clinical practice is a challenge for all

aspects of healthcare. This has been one of my personal focuses

over the last two years as I have been completing a NHRMC

Translating Research into Practice Fellowship in lung cancer.

However, there is much more work to be done. One important target

is to educate the multidisciplinary communities, including doctors

Capacity of care