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Feasibility of Aerobic Exercise and Tai-Chi Interventions in Advanced Lung Cancer Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Frontiers in Psychiatry. 20:15347354211033352. 2021
Cheung D.S.T., Takemura N., Lam T.C., Ho J.C.M., Deng W., Smith R., Yan Y., Lee A.W.M., Lin C.C.*


A majority of lung cancer patients are diagnosed at advanced stages. Although there is considerable evidence of the benefits of aerobic exercise and tai-chi for lung cancer patients, little is known about the comparative effectiveness of the 2 exercise modes in advanced lung cancer patients.

To explore the feasibility and preliminary effects of aerobic exercise and tai-chi interventions on survival and well-being among advanced lung cancer patients.

In an assessor-blinded, exploratory randomized controlled trial, 30 advanced lung cancer patients were randomized to an aerobic exercise group, a tai-chi group (both attending 12-week, twice-weekly supervised sessions), or a self-management control group (receiving written exercise guidelines). The primary outcomes focused on feasibility including intervention completion, exercise adherence, and adverse events, while the secondary outcomes addressed preliminary effects and included 1-year survival, cancer symptoms (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Score, Brief Fatigue Inventory), quality of life (EORTC QLQ-C30, QLQ-LC13), physical performance (6-minute walk test, up-and-go, sit-to-stand, 1-leg standing), activity levels (actigraph), and circadian rhythms (salivary cortisol).

Intervention feasibility was established with a satisfactory completion rate at post-intervention for the aerobic exercise group (80%) and the tai-chi group (78%). The tai-chi group attained higher adherence than the exercise group in terms of attendance in supervised sessions (89% vs 75% of scheduled classes) and self-practice (225% vs 87% of the prescribed amount). Higher adherence to self-practice in the tai-chi group remained at the 6-month follow-up (81% vs 38% of the prescribed amount). No adverse event as a result of the intervention was reported. Effect-related outcomes did not show statistically significant changes in any group, except an improvement post-intervention in the up-and-go (-2.26, 95% CI: -4.04, -0.48) and sit-to-stand tests (4.52, 95% CI: 2.19, 6.85) in the aerobic exercise group.

The findings support the feasibility of aerobic exercise and tai-chi interventions in advanced lung cancer patients. A future study with a larger sample from multiple sites is recommended to confirm the comparative effects of the 2 exercise interventions relative to the self-management group and to enhance the generalizability of the findings.

Key Words: advanced cancer; aerobic exercise; lung cancer; quality of life; survival; tai-chi

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(*Correspondence Author)