Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer. Surgery is proven to be the most effective treatment in early stages, despite its potential impact on quality of life. Pulmonary rehabilitation, either before or after surgery, is associated with reduced morbidity related symptoms and improved exercise capacity, lung function and quality of life.
The authors describe the study protocol for the open-label randomized controlled trial we are conducting on patients affected by primary lung cancer (stages I-II) eligible for surgical treatment. The control group receives standard care consisting in one educational session before surgery and early inpatient postoperative physiotherapy. The treatment group receives, in addition to standard care, intensive rehabilitation involving 14 preoperative sessions (6 outpatient and 8 home-based) and 39 postoperative sessions (15 outpatient and 24 home-based) with aerobic, resistance and respiratory training, as well as scar massage and group bodyweight exercise training. Assessments are performed at baseline, the day before surgery and one month and six months after surgery. The main outcome is the long-term exercise capacity measured with the Six-Minute Walk Test; short-term exercise capacity, lung function, postoperative morbidity, length of hospital stay, quality of life (Short Form 12), mood disturbances (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) and pain (Numeric Rating Scale) are also recorded and analysed. Patient compliance and treatment-related side effects are also collected. Statistical analyses will be performed according to the intention-to-treat approach. T-test for independent samples will be used for continuous variables after assessment of normality of distribution. Chi-square test will be used for categorical variables. Expecting a 10% dropout rate, assuming α of 5% and power of 80%, they planned to enrol 140 patients to demonstrate a statistically significant difference of 25 m at Six-Minute Walk Test.
Pulmonary Resection and Intensive Rehabilitation study (PuReAIR) will contribute significantly in investigating the effects of perioperative rehabilitation on exercise capacity, symptoms, lung function and long-term outcomes in surgically treated lung cancer patients. This study protocol will facilitate interpretation of future results and wide application of evidence-based practice.