Evaluation of supervised multimodal prehabilitation programme in cancer patients undergoing colorectal resection: a randomized control trial

<p><b>Background:</b> Prehabilitation has been previously shown to be more effective in enhancing postoperative functional capacity than rehabilitation alone. The purpose of this study was to determine whether a weekly supervised exercise session could provide further benefit to our current prehabilition program, when comparing to standard post-surgical rehabilitation.</p> <p><b>Methods:</b> A parallel-arm single-blind randomized control trial was conducted in patients scheduled for non-metastatic colorectal cancer resection. Patients were assigned to either a once weekly supervised prehabilitation (PREHAB+, <i>n</i> = 41) or standard rehabilitation (REHAB, <i>n</i> = 39) program. Both multimodal programs were home-based program and consisted of moderate intensity aerobic and resistance exercise, nutrition counseling with daily whey protein supplementation and anxiety-reduction strategies. Perioperative care was standardized for both groups as per enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS<sup>®</sup>) guidelines. Functional exercise capacity, as determined by the 6-minute walk test distance (6MWD), was the primary outcome. Exercise quantity, intensity and energy expenditure was determined by the CHAMPS questionnaire.</p> <p><b>Results:</b> Both groups were comparable for baseline walking capacity (PREHAB+: 448 m [IQR 375–525] vs. REHAB: 461 m [419–556], <i>p</i>=.775) and included a similar proportion of patients who improved walking capacity (>20 m) during the preoperative period (PREHAB+: 54% vs. REHAB: 38%, <i>p</i> = .222). After surgery, changes in 6MWD were also similar in both groups. In PREHAB+, however, there was a significant association between physical activity energy expenditure and 6MWD (<i>p</i> < .01). Previously inactive patients were more likely to improve functional capacity due to PREHAB+ (OR 7.07 [95% CI 1.10–45.51]).</p> <p><b>Conclusions:</b> The addition of a weekly supervised exercise session to our current prehabilitation program did not further enhance postoperative walking capacity when compared to standard REHAB care. Sedentary patients, however, seemed more likely to benefit from PREHAB+. An association was found between energy spent in physical activity and 6MWD. This information is important to consider when designing cost-effective prehabilitation programs.</p>