In 2013, a study of lung cancer patients showed that patients who followed an exercise program before surgery had better post-operative results. It concluded that "preoperative exercise and short-term, intense physical therapy has been demonstrated to increase oxygen saturation, improve exercise capacity, and reduce hospital stays."
Another study involved 22 lung cancer patients who followed a two-week program before surgery that included breathing exercises, coughing exercises, and walking a minimum of 5,000 steps per day. Patients who followed the program spent 28% less time recovering in post-surgery rehabilitation facilities than patients who underwent a similar surgery without prehabilitation.
"For the most part, the studies on prehabilitative care have involved patients diagnosed with lung cancer and colon cancer," said Silver. "But we think there's a great opportunity to study how targeted interventions can help patients with all types of cancer recover faster and spend less time in the hospital."
One of the key challenges for cancer patients is the time available for prehabilitation. Unlike patients undergoing elective surgeries such as knee replacements, many cancer patients must undergo surgery or other procedures quickly to treat the cancer before it spreads.