Physiotherapy for Quality of Life After Pancreatic Cancer Resection

According to Dirk Weyhe and collaborating researchers, patients experience significantly reduced physical and psychological quality of life (QoL) after pancreatic resection for cancer. The group performed a study to determine if long-term intensive or supervised physiotherapy effectively improved QoL after pancreatic cancer resection. Their article, published in BMC Cancer, stated that “supervised physiotherapy or prescribed home-based exercise after pancreatic cancer resection is safe and feasible and should be proposed and started as soon as possible to improve certain aspects of QoL.”

Investigators equally randomized a total of 56 patients to intervention (n = 28) and control groups. The intensified physiotherapy intervention was comprised of endurance and muscle force exercises using cycle ergometer. The control group performed physiotherapy for 20 minutes five days a week, and only during their hospital stay. QoL was assessed with the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB), Short Form-8 Health Survey (SF-8), and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) QLQ-C30 and QLQ-PAN26 modules.

Physiotherapy After Pancreatic Cancer Resection

The authors noted that only 34 of the 56 recruited patients completed the 12 month follow-up period. Reportedly, 80% of patients in the intervention group adhered to the physiotherapy, with no adverse events observed. Initially, the investigators found that “there was no significant influence on physical performance as measured by the SPPB and SF-8 questionnaire.” After six months, however, “patients in the intervention group regained their prior physical condition, whereas the control group did not.”

Overall, based on the C30 module, physiotherapy significantly affected physical functioning (p = 0.018), role functioning (p = 0.036), and appetite loss (p = 0.037) at six months post-pancreatic cancer resection. Additionally, investigators observed no negative effects in patients undergoing chemotherapy versus those who were not.

In closing, the authors suggested that the intervention’s “impact on physical functioning is indeed so strong that even the small sample of this study was sufficient to demonstrate its significant effect,” and called for more investigation to identify the optimal physiotherapy approach.

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