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01.06.2015 | Original Article | Ausgabe 6/2015

Supportive Care in Cancer 6/2015

The effect of resistance inspiratory muscle training in the management of breathlessness in patients with thoracic malignancies: a feasibility randomised trial

Supportive Care in Cancer > Ausgabe 6/2015
A. Molassiotis, A. Charalambous, P. Taylor, Z. Stamataki, Y. Summers



Breathlessness in patients with lung cancer is a common and distressing symptom affecting 50–70 % of patients, rising to some 90 % for those with advanced lung cancer. The aim of the current study was to assess how feasible inspiratory muscle training (IMT) is in the lung cancer population and explore changes in outcome variables.

Materials and methods

A pilot feasibility randomised trial was conducted in patients with clinically stable lung cancer. The experimental group received training using a pressure threshold device. Patients were instructed to carry out five IMT sessions weekly for 12 weeks for a total of 30 mins/day. Patients in the control group received standard care. Outcome measures were completed at baseline and monthly for 3 months, and included: physiological parameters (FEV1, FVC); perceived severity of breathlessness using six 10-point NRS; modified Borg Scale; quality of life using the short form Chronic Respiratory Disease Questionnaire; Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and safety.


Forty-six patients (M = 37, F = 9) at a mean age of 69.5 years old and a mean of 16 months post-diagnosis who were not currently receiving chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy were recruited. Seventy-percent had NSCLC and advanced disease. Statistical (area under the curve-AUC) and clinically important differences were seen with regard to distress from breathlessness (p = 0.03), ability to cope with breathlessness (p = 0.01), satisfaction with breathlessness management (p = 0.001), fatigue (p = 0.005), emotional function (p = 0.011), breathlessness mastery (p = 0.015) and depression (p = 0.028). The m-Borg difference between the two groups at 3 months was 0.80, which is borderline clinically significant. Changes were more evident in the 3-month assessment where the effect of the intervention came to its peak.


This trial shows the IMT is feasible and potentially effective in patients with lung cancer. These findings warrant a fully powered larger randomised controlled trial.

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