Lung cancer survivorship programme at Cork University Hospital

Living Beyond Lung Cancer – Survivorship Programme
Sharon Guiry, Lung Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist, Cork University Hospital (CUH);
Colette Grant, Cancer Information Service Nurse, Daffodil Centre CUH; Maeve O’Grady, Senior Physiotherapist, CUH


Compared to other types of cancer, the distress associated with lung cancer has been found to be the most intense.  Following cancer treatment, anxiety, fatigue, sleep disturbance, diet and pain have been identified as key issues for cancer survivors. The benefits of survivorship programmes in addressing these issues have been well documented and promoted.  However, restrictions within the current Irish clinical setting frequently act as barriers towards survivorship issues being adequately addressed.  

Lung cancer survivorship programme

A programme was devised at Cork University Hospital to address survivorship issues for lung cancer patients, so that interventions could be assessed and quality of life improved.
A six-week programme was created which would address key survivorship issues. Seven participants undertook an initial physical assessment, and an individualised exercise programme was devised.  For six weeks, the participants attended a weekly, 45-minute exercise session. This was followed by a 45-minute interactive educational talk. Topics covered included diet, exercise education, monetary and legal advice, fatigue management, smoking cessation, shortness of breath management, and the personal impact of a cancer diagnosis. 


Measurements tools used were Spirometry, FACT-L questionnaire, Chronic Respiratory Questionnaire, Medical Research Council Questionnaire, Dyspnoea questionnaire, Endurance Shuttle Walk test, and the Incremental Shuttle Walk Test. All tests were conducted before and after the course, with the FACT-L questionnaire also being performed at 3 months post completion.  Verbal comments regarding the course, its content and speakers were recorded throughout.


The results showed median changes in distance and duration of physical activity.  Whilst none were statistically significant, the sample size was very small. No changes in weight or FACT-L scoring were identified as being significant compared to pre course figures. Some results were trending towards being statistically significant, though, and it was felt that had a larger sample size been used, statistically significant results may have been achieved.  
Verbal feedback was extremely positive throughout the programme, with a 5.5/ 6 week average attendance. Many participants had multiple co-morbidities, yet travelled long distances to attend the course.  This, combined with the excellent attendance rates and the very positive oral feedback, indicates that the participants were feeling a personal benefit from attending.

The value of the programme to its participants was clear, and as a result the programme will be re-evaluated, with changes to be implemented regarding the scores used, duration and frequency of event ahead of the next programme.

This article was published in the Spring 2015 issue of the Cancer Information Services newsletter for health professionals.

Date Last Revised: 
Wednesday, May 20, 2015