Esophageal cancer is a serious malignancy often treated with multimodal interventions and complex surgical resection. As treatment moves to centers of excellence with emphasis on enhanced recovery approaches, the role of the physiotherapist has expanded. The aim of this review is to discuss the rationale behind both the evolving prehabilitative role of the physiotherapist and more established postoperative interventions for patients with esophageal cancer. While a weak association between preoperative cardiopulmonary fitness and post-esophagectomy outcome is reported, cardiotoxicity during neoadjuvant chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy may heighten postoperative risk. Preliminary studies suggest that prehabilitative inspiratory muscle training may improve postoperative outcome. Weight and muscle loss are a recognized sequelae of esophageal cancer and the functional consequences of this should be assessed. Postoperative physiotherapy priorities include effective airway clearance and early mobilization. The benefits of respiratory physiotherapy post-esophagectomy are described by a small number of studies, however, practice increasingly recognizes the importance of early mobilization as a key component of postoperative recovery. The benefits of exercise training in patients with contraindications to mobilization remain to be explored. While there is a strong basis for tailored physiotherapy interventions in the management of patients with esophageal cancer, this review highlights the need for studies to inform prehabilitative and postoperative interventions.
Trinity College Dublin ->