Exercise across the lung cancer care continuum: an overview of systematic reviews

Lara Edbrooke, Amy Bowman, Catherine L. Granger, Nicola Burgess, Shaza Abo, Bronwen Connolly, Linda Denehy

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Background: Growing evidence supports exercise for people with lung cancer. This overview aimed to summarise exercise intervention efficacy and safety across the care continuum. Methods: Eight databases (including Cochrane and Medline) were searched (inception—February 2022) for systematic reviews of RCTs/quasi-RCTs. Eligibility: population—adults with lung cancer; intervention: exercise (e.g., aerobic, resistance) +/− non-exercise (e.g., nutrition); comparator: usual care/non-exercise; primary outcomes: exercise capacity, physical function, health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and post-operative complications. Duplicate, independent title/abstract and full-text screening, data extraction and quality ratings (AMSTAR-2) were completed. Results: Thirty systematic reviews involving between 157 and 2109 participants (n = 6440 total) were included. Most reviews (n = 28) involved surgical participants. Twenty-five reviews performed meta-analyses. The review quality was commonly rated critically low (n = 22) or low (n = 7). Reviews commonly included combinations of aerobic, resistance and/or respiratory exercise interventions. Pre-operative meta-analyses demonstrated that exercise reduces post-operative complications (n = 4/7) and improves exercise capacity (n = 6/6), whilst HRQoL findings were non-significant (n = 3/3). Post-operative meta-analyses reported significant improvements in exercise capacity (n = 2/3) and muscle strength (n = 1/1) and non-significant HRQoL changes (n = 8/10). Interventions delivered to mixed surgical and non-surgical populations improved exercise capacity (n = 3/4), muscle strength (n = 2/2) and HRQoL (n = 3). Meta-analyses of interventions in non-surgical populations demonstrated inconsistent findings. Adverse event rates were low, however, few reviews reported on safety. Conclusions: A large body of evidence supports lung cancer exercise interventions to reduce complications and improve exercise capacity in pre- and post-operative populations. Additional higher-quality research is needed, particularly in the non-surgical population, including subgroup analyses of exercise type and setting.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1871
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number5
Early online date27 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2023


  • General Medicine


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