Background.Preserving functional walking capacity and nutritional status is important for patients with esophageal cancer, but no effective intervention is available, particularly during active treatment.Methods.This pilot randomized controlled trial tested the effects of a walk-and-eat intervention for patients with esophageal cancer undergoing neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy. Participants with locally advanced esophageal cancer stage IIB or higher (n = 59) were randomly assigned to receive the walk-and-eat intervention (n = 30; nurse-supervised walking three times per week and weekly nutritional advice) or usual care (n = 29; control group) during 4-5 weeks of chemoradiotherapy. Primary endpoints were changes in distance on the 6-minute walk test, hand-grip strength, lean muscle mass, and body weight between initiation and completion of intervention.Results.Participants (mean age: 59.6 years) were mostly male (92.9%) with squamous cell carcinoma (96.4%). During chemoradiotherapy, participants who received the walk-and-eat intervention had 100-m less decline than controls in walk distance (adjusted p = .012), 3-kg less decrease in hand-grip strength (adjusted p = .002), and 2.7-kg less reduction in body weight (adjusted p < .001), regardless of age. The intervention group also had significantly lower rates of need for intravenous nutritional support and wheelchair use.Conclusion.The nurse-led walk-and-eat intervention is feasible and effective to preserve functional walking capacity and nutritional status for patients with esophageal cancer undergoing neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy.Implications for PracticeNeoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy for esophageal cancer patients often comes with side effects that affect patients' appetite and body weight and lead to a marked decrease in physical activity that may reduce strength, muscle mass, and functional walking capacity. This study shows that these side effects may be reduced in esophageal cancer patients who participate in a walk-and-eat intervention. Nurses can implement this intervention in radiation oncology departments, provided physician and nursing leadership cooperate to achieve compliance with the protocols.
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[Source: The Oncologist Subject Collection: Symptom Management and Supportive Care]

Author: Mallard Realty Group

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