A new study entitled “Prehabilitation versus Rehabilitation: A Randomized Control Trial in Patients Undergoing Colorectal Resection for Cancer” suggests that a prehabilitition program including exercise, healthy diet and relaxation techniques before colorectal cancer surgery improves patients’ recovery. These findings were published in the November issue of Anesthesiology.
The authors hypothesized that the preoperative period (prehabilitation) is optimal for intervention strategies for functional exercise recovery in patients submitted to colorectal cancer surgery. In the study, two groups of patients were analyzed – patients who integrated a prehabilitation program (38 patients) and patients with a rehabilitation program (39 patients).
Both groups received a program of aerobic and resistance exercises, accompanied by a personalized nutrition program and relaxation techniques. The prehabilition group initiated their program four weeks before surgery, and both groups followed the same program immediately after surgery.
The study outcome – functional exercise capacity – was measured by the six-minute walk test. Patients in the prehabilitation group walked significantly more (≥20 m) before surgery when compared to the rehabilitation group. Two months after surgery, prehabilitation patients walked 23 meters more than in the beginning of the study, while rehabilitation patients walked 22 meters less.
Dr. Francesco Carli, professor of anesthesia at McGill University Health Center in Montreal and the study leading author commented in a news release, “Prehabilitation prepares patients to withstand the stress of surgery, so they are able to recover faster and function better after the procedure. Pre-surgery conditioning helps patients take an active role in their own recovery. We believe instituting prehabilitation before surgery when possible could improve health and recovery and reduce costs.”
Colon cancer is the third most common type of cancer diagnosed in the United States, with colorectal surgery usually chosen as the appropriate therapy.
Dr. Carli added in the press release, “Even when there are no complications, colorectal cancer surgery patients suffer from a 20 to 40 percent reduction in functional capacity after surgery. That’s especially true for elderly patients with other health conditions, who may not recover to the function levels they were at before surgery for several months, if at all. Getting these patients healthier before surgery would be of huge benefit.”