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A new pilot study at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton aims to determine if wearable technology can help to prepare patients before they receive surgery for lung cancer.

The research team believes that regular activity before a surgery may help to prevent complications afterwards.

“We find that patients with lung cancer often exhibit a lack of exercise and have a history of smoking,” says Dr. Wael Hanna, thoracic surgeon at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and the study’s lead author. “This study will tell us if our idea is feasible, and will help us to further evaluate how physical activity affects post-surgery outcomes.”

Weeks before their surgery, patients will receive a Fitbit® and be asked to walk a minimum of 2,000 steps per day in their first week and increase their steps by 10% per week. They will be asked to set personalized goals with their care practitioner, and will be reminded about their goals daily through their device.

“If this pilot study finds that this preconditioning program is feasible, we’d like to test it in a larger population in a fully-developed clinical trial,” says Dr. Hanna.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, lung cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in Canada – affecting around 1 in 11 Canadian men and 1 in 14 Canadian women. It’s also results in more deaths than breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer combined.

“Currently, surgery is the best available treatment for Stage I and II lung cancer,” says Dr. Hanna. “It’s curative in about 80% of patients, but is associated with a high rate of complications. We hope that this program will be able to help with that.”

The study is done in partnership with the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer and Lung Cancer Canada, and has been funded by the St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation Research Collaboration Grant.

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