Poor performance in incremental shuttle walk and cardiopulmonary exercise testing predicts poor overall survival for patients undergoing esophago-gastric resection

European Journal of Surgical Oncology 2018 https://doi.org/10.1016/ j.ejso.2018.01.242

 Presented by: Dr T Green

Background

Patients with oesophageal and gastric cancer have a poor prognosis with an untreated five year survival at time of diagnosis of 20% and an increase to only 40% following treatment.  It can take up to one year for many patients to recover from treatment and regain their preoperative quality of life and many patients will not achieve this.  Careful preoperative assessment is essential to select those who will benefit from surgical treatment.

The Incremental Shuttle Walk Test (ISWT) and Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing (CPET) can be used to assess the preoperative fitness of patients.  CPET results include the Anaerobic Threshold (AT) and Maximal Oxygen Consumption (VO2 Max).  This study aims to assess the correlation between ISWT and CPET with postoperative survival and postoperative pulmonary complications.

Design & Setting

Observational study of patients undergoing surgery for gastric or oesophageal cancer with or without neoadjuvant chemo-radiotherapy between 2010 and 2014 (presumably at Royal Marsden Hospital / St Mary’s Hospital, London – not stated but based on authors’ affiliations)

Data collected on preoperative clinical stage, postoperative pathological stage, postoperative respiratory complications, all-cause mortality and mortality due to disease recurrence.

Subjects

81 patients assessed through the Perioperative Enhanced Recovery Protocol between 2010 and 2014.  All patients underwent either ISWT or CPET (or both).

Intervention

Observational study – no intervention.

Outcomes

  • Assessment of the utility of the ISWT and CPET for determination of postoperative respiratory complications and mortality.
  • ISWT score of 350m or above.
  • CPET values: AT 11 or above and VO2 Max 14ml/kg/min or above.

Results

  • 73 of 81 patients (90%) had both ISWT and CPET assessment.
  • No correlation between single time point ISWT or CPET results and postoperative respiratory complications.
  • A subset of patients (45) had ISWT both before and after chemoradiotherapy and of these, those who achieved a >10% increase in score were noted to have a reduced incidence of postoperative respiratory complications (19% in those whose ISWT score improved >10% vs 45% in those whose score remained within 10% of their pre-chemoradiotherapy score or whose score reduced by >10%). This did not reach statistical significance (p = 0.08).  There was no correlation between such improvement in ISWT score and overall mortality.
  • All cause mortality and mortality due to disease recurrence correlates strongly (p < 0.001) with ISWT score ≥350m, AT ≥11 and VO2 Max ≥14 (Median survival with ISWT <350m or VO2 Max <14 was 20 months vs >5 years. Median survival with AT <11 21 months vs >5 years.)

Conclusions

ISWT assessment before and after chemotherapy is indicated and a reduction in score indicative of deconditioning, should trigger patient-specific exercise-based intervention.  CPET, being considerably more complicated and expensive, should be reserved for cases with established cardiopulmonary comorbidities.

Strengths

  • Goals and methods clearly defined.
  • Negative results reported.
  • Recognition of limitations of current study.

Weaknesses

  • Observational study therefore no case-control analysis.
  • Small sample size, especially for those undergoing ISWT before and after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy leading to underpowered statistical analysis.
  • The concurrent study being performed by the authors assessing the introduction of patient-specific exercise-based prehabilitation appears to have preceded the results of this study and may introduce bias into the analysis and conclusions.

Implications

ISWT may be a cheaper, less complicated method of determining cardiopulmonary fitness prior to surgery for gastric or oesophageal cancer and may be of use in guiding the multidisciplinary team in determining the best course of action for a given patient (surgery or conservative management).

Potential for impact

The use the ISWT, a cheaper, simpler assessment of cardiopulmonary fitness versus CPET is attractive as long as this can reasonably be used to guide treatment options.  The use of CPET still has its place based on the results of this study.