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The effect of a pre- and post-operative exercise program versus standard care on physical activity and sedentary behavior of patients with esophageal and gastric cancer undergoing neoadjuvant treatment prior to surgery (the PERIOP-OG Trial): a randomized controlled trial†.

Neoadjuvant cancer treatment (NCT) reduces both physical fitness and physical activity (PA) levels, which can increase the risk of adverse outcomes in cancer patients. This study aims to determine the effect of exercise prehabilitation on PA and sedentary behavior (SB) in patients undergoing NCT and surgery for esophagogastric malignancies. This study is a randomized pragmatic controlled multi-center trial conducted across three Irish hospitals. Participants were aged ≥18 years scheduled for esophagectomy or gastrectomy and were planned for NCT and surgery. Participants were randomized to an exercise prehabilitation group (EX) that commenced following cancer diagnosis, continued to the point of surgery, and resumed following recovery from surgery for 6 weeks or to usual care (UC) who received routine treatment. The primary outcome measures were PA and SB. Between March 2019 and December 2020, 71 participants were recruited: EX (n = 36) or UC (n = 35). No significant differences were found between the EX group and UC group on levels of PA or SBs across all measured timepoints. Significant decreases in moderate-vigorous physical activity levels (MVPAs) were found between baseline and post-surgery (P = 0.028), pre-surgery and post-surgery (P = 0.001) and pre-surgery and 6-week follow-up (P = 0.022) for all participants. Step count also significantly decreased between pre-surgery and post-surgery (P < 0.001). Baseline aerobic fitness was positively associated to PA levels and negatively associated with SB. Esophagogastric cancer patients have lower than recommended levels of PA at the time of diagnosis and this decreased further following completion of NCT. An optional home- or group-based exercise intervention was not effective in improving PA levels or behaviors across the cancer treatment journey.

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