Impact of curative treatment on the physical fitness of patients with esophageal cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Authors Elja A.E. Reijneveld, Petra Bor, Jaap J. Dronkers, Núria Argudo, Jelle P. Ruurda, Cindy Veenhof
Published in European Journal of Surgical Oncology
Publication date 2021
Research groups Innovation of Movement Care
Type Article


Background: Esophageal cancer and curative treatment have a significant impact on the physical fitness of patients. Knowledge about the course of physical fitness during neoadjuvant therapy and esophagectomy is helpful to determine the needs for interventions during and after curative treatment. This study aims to review the current evidence on the impact of curative treatment on the physical fitness of patients with esophageal cancer. Methods: A systematic literature search of PubMed, Embase, Cinahl and the Cochrane Library was conducted up to March 29, 2021. We included observational studies investigating the change of physical fitness (including exercise capacity, muscle strength, physical activity and activities of daily living) from pre-to post-neoadjuvant therapy and/or from pre-to post-esophagectomy. Quality of the studies was assessed and a meta-analysis was performed using standardized mean differences. Results: Twenty-seven articles were included. After neoadjuvant therapy, physical fitness decreased significantly. In the first three months after surgery, physical fitness was also significantly decreased compared to preoperative values. Subgroup analysis showed a restore in exercise capacity three months after surgery in patients who followed an exercise program. Six months after surgery, there was limited evidence that exercise capacity restored to preoperative values. Conclusion: Curative treatment seems to result in a decrease of physical fitness in patients with esophageal cancer, up to three months postoperatively. Six months postoperatively, results were conflicting. In patients who followed a pre- or postoperative exercise program, the postoperative impact of curative treatment seems to be less.

On this publication contributed

Language English
Published in European Journal of Surgical Oncology
Key words esophageal cancer, curative treatment, physical fitness, physiotherapy
Page range 391 -402

Elja Reijneveld

Elja Reijneveld | Researcher | Research group Innovation of Movement Care

Elja Reijneveld

  • Researcher
  • Research group: Innovation of Movement Care