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LUNG CANCER
NEWS

Physical Manipulation Therapy Improves Lung Function After Surgery for NSCLC, Study Finds

Posted on January 20, 2022
Medically reviewed by
Todd Gersten, M.D.
Article written by
Emily Wagner, M.S.

  • A recent study found that physical manipulation pulmonary rehabilitation (PMPR) improves lung function and quality of life in people recovering from lung cancer surgery.
  • The PMPR treatment in the study included helping people who’d undergone thoracoscopic lobectomy with relaxing and exercising their chest muscles, joints, and abdominal breathing muscles.
  • Researchers found that PMPR improved lung function and decreased recovery time compared to conventional pulmonary rehabilitation methods.

A type of pulmonary rehabilitation that involves relaxing and exercising specific muscles after lung cancer surgery is associated with better lung function and overall improved quality of life, a new study found. Researchers from Beijing Hospital in China developed the physical manipulation pulmonary rehabilitation program for people who were recovering from surgery to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The goal was to improve health after the operation.

“The results show that physical manipulation therapy can accelerate the recovery of pulmonary function after surgery and can produce therapeutic effects from 3 to 4 weeks after surgery,” the researchers wrote in the study, which was published in the journal Thoracic Cancer.

Recovery After Lung Cancer Surgery

Lung cancer surgery is an intensive procedure used to remove cancer-affected areas of the lung. Oftentimes, large portions of the lung are removed to ensure that no cancer is left behind. This can reduce a person’s lung capacity and impair normal lung function, such as breathing and coughing.

Before and after lung cancer surgery, people can undergo pulmonary rehabilitation. This can include cough and breathing exercises, exercise training, and general education about recovery. Although these methods are somewhat successful, many people cannot regain the strength they had before surgery.

A recent study also found that prehabilitation — including diet, exercise, and emotional support — can improve lung cancer treatment outcomes.

Recent advances have allowed therapists to improve pulmonary rehabilitation methods to improve lung function and speed up the recovery process for people who had lung cancer surgery.

Physical Manipulation Pulmonary Rehabilitation After Lobectomy

The authors of this study investigated the use of physical manipulation pulmonary rehabilitation in people with NSCLC recovering from surgery. The study looked at a total of 86 participants who underwent a thoracoscopic lobectomy. Among them, 42 were placed into the control group and 44 in the treatment group. The control group received 28 days of conventional pulmonary rehabilitation after surgery, whereas the treatment group received 14 days of PMPR in addition to the conventional therapy. The PMPR included relaxing and exercising the chest muscles, joints, and abdominal breathing muscles. All exercises involved a therapist touching or applying pressure to specific areas of the chest or abdomen.

Researchers monitored participants’ progress through several tests, including pulmonary function tests and the six-minute walk test. Testing was done before surgery, then repeated at 7, 14, 21, and 28 days post-surgery. The researchers also noted how long participants stayed in the hospital following surgery, how long their chest tubes were in place, and if they experienced any complications.

Overall, participants in the PMPR group had significantly better lung function compared to those in the conventional therapy group after 21 days of therapy. At 28 days, the PMPR group even regained normal lung functions similar to levels before surgery — the conventional group did not reach this baseline. There were no statistically significant differences in the six-minute walk test between the two groups.

Overall, the researchers showed that PMPR can speed up the recovery process by three to four weeks after surgery, helping people return to their everyday lives. However, these findings need to be verified in a larger study over a longer period of follow-up time to determine the long-term effects of PMPR.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Todd Gersten, M.D. is a hematologist-oncologist at the Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute in Wellington, Florida. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Emily Wagner, M.S. holds a Master of Science in biomedical sciences with a focus in pharmacology. She is passionate about immunology, cancer biology, and molecular biology. Learn more about her here.

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