Step counting can help predict outcomes for patients undergoing lung cancer treatment

Research has suggested that step counters can help predict outcomes for patients receiving lung cancer therapy by acting as an indicator of how physically active they are during their treatment period.

Woman undergoing radiotherapy

Measuring patients’ step counts before they receive lung cancer treatment could help predict outcomes, research published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics (15 November 2019) has suggested[1]

Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, recorded the activity of 50 patients with locally advanced, non-small cell lung cancer who wore step counters before undergoing chemoradiation therapy. Patients were categorised as inactive (n=18)] or moderately or highly active (n=32), based on the number of steps they took each day, adjusted for their age.

Inactive patients were more likely to be admitted to hospital during their radiotherapy course or to experience treatment delays, and were at increased risk for disease progression or death.

Half of those in the inactive group were admitted to hospital during treatment, compared with 9% of those who were moderately or highly active (odds ratio 9.7; P=0.003). The median duration for progression-free survival for inactive patients was 5.3 months, compared with 18.3 months for active patients.

“I consider step counts to be a new vital sign for cancer treatment,” said Nitin Ohri, a radiation oncologist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York and lead investigator in the study.

“Having an objective indicator of patients’ functional status could be critical in identifying who needs extra care during treatment.”


[1] Ohri N, Halmos B, Bodner WR et al. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2019;105(4):745. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2019.07.055

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, February 2020, Vol 304, No 7934;304(7934):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2020.20207678

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