It is difficult for the body to undergo any type of surgery, especially if it is for serious diseases such as cancer. But shaping before surgery-called rehabilitation-can significantly improve a patient’s recovery, for example by reducing the time they need to stay in the hospital after surgery.
We reviewed current research on cancer surgical rehabilitation, and looked at 15 studies in total. We want to know how certain rehabilitation programs affect the three different outcomes of cancer surgery. These include how long the patient stays in the hospital after the operation, their physical function (measured by how far they can walk in six minutes), and whether they have complications or died after the operation.
The items we investigate are divided into three main types, depending on whether they provide exercise advice or nutrition advice, both, or a combination of the two and provide psychological support. The patient performed many different types of exercise, including aerobic exercise (such as cycling or running), resistance training (such as squats or weightlifting), and HIIT (high intensity interval training).
For some people, the exercise is supervised by a sports scientist or physical therapist, while others complete the plan on their own. These plans lasted one to four weeks.
We cannot determine in detail how each specific item affects patients compared to other items. But our research does show that, in general, exercising before surgery can improve the recovery of patients, especially shorten their hospital stay. Staying in shape is the most important factor, which means that many different procedures can be used and customized for each patient.
Many different factors affect the extent to which a patient recovers from surgery, including the age of the patient, the type and severity of cancer, and even the skill of the surgeon. But we also found that maintaining a figure before surgery may affect the extent to which patients with certain types of cancer recover from surgery.
We found that patients with liver cancer and pancreatic cancer responded particularly well to rehabilitation treatment. On average, these patients were hospitalized two days less than patients receiving routine preoperative care (such as general exercise and nutrition advice, or information about surgical expectations).
We also show that certain types of cancer may benefit less from rehabilitation treatment—especially the more common types, such as colorectal cancer and bowel cancer. Although our review showed that becoming healthy before surgery reduced the length of hospital stay after surgery for these types of cancers and improved physical function to a certain extent, overall, the effect was not as good as that of people receiving conventional preoperative care. So remarkable. More research is needed to determine whether certain items are more beneficial for these types of cancers than others.
The good news is that the effects of rehabilitation training may be seen in patients who need it most. Therefore, if your body shape is relatively out of shape, but you regained your shape before the operation, you are more likely to see the benefits of rehabilitation. This may have a significant impact on certain populations-including those with poorer average physical conditions, such as those living in areas with lower socioeconomic status. By reducing costs and freeing up possible beds, shortening the length of hospital stay after cancer surgery will also be beneficial.
It is estimated that half of people born in the UK will receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. This means that for those who may have to undergo surgery, rehabilitation training can help them recover better-and should be a necessary part of any patient’s preoperative routine.