PA study

Physical Activity study. The study started in 2016 and closed the inclusion of patients in the spring of 2020. We are currently analysing the results and a long-term follow-up is ongoing.

Oesophageal cancer

The curative treatment of esophageal cancer includes extensive surgery that is often accompanied by slow and incomplete recovery. Weight loss with loss of muscle strength and muscle mass as well as reduced health-related quality of life, reduced physical activity and reduced food intake are dominant problems during the long recovery phase in people who have undergone surgery.

The purpose of the PA study

The purpose of the PA study was to reduce involuntary muscle loss in those who had undergone surgery for oesophageal cancer. The PA study examined whether strength training and physical activity could increase muscle mass and muscle strength.


All patients in Sweden who had undergone surgery for oesophageal cancer and participated in the OSCAR study between 2015 and 2020 were invited to participate in a training intervention. Half of those who choose to participate were randomly assigned to a 12-week-long physical strength training program which involved performing 5 muscle-strengthening activities at home twice a week. The muscle-strengthening activities took about 15-20 minutes to complete and were demonstrated by the research nurse during the visit. The program also involved a routine of heart rate-boosting activities such as walking, jogging and cycling up to 150 minutes a week. The other half acted as a control group and received conventional rehabilitation and follow-up.

We measured body composition via a weight scale, muscle strength with 2 different tests and health-related quality of life with self-reported questionnaires that the participants filled in. All participants received an accelerometer (pedometer) which was used for daily step count, distance, active time and calorie and fat burning. They also documented food intake on 6 occasions in a food diary.

Personal telephone contacts were made every week for follow-up with adjustment of resistance in the strength training if necessary and control of compliance with the intervention.


After completion of the intervention (12 weeks), a follow-up visit was performed with all participants. Then all measurements were completed again (see above). A long-term follow-up 4 years after the training period for the participants in both groups is ongoing.


Participation in the study was completely voluntary and the care and treatment of the patient was not affected if they chose to participate or not and if they chose to withdraw from the study.

The future

The study is the first to test whether the recovery of patients undergoing esophageal cancer surgery can be improved through a strength training program. The results may have great application in healthcare for this patient group because there is a great need for measures that can improve patients' self-care and thus life situation. The results can also be transferred to other patient groups undergoing extensive cancer surgery. This would be of great importance to many people and may relieve healthcare.


If you have questions about the study or if you as a patient have not been contacted and wish to participate in the study, you are welcome to contact our our research nurse Kalle Mälberg.

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Kalle Mälberg

Research Nurse

Exercise video for those who participated in the physical activity study (PA study) after surgery for esophageal cancer (in Swedish)

In this video you will see all the exercises that participants in the PA study were conducting during 12 weeks. You will also find tips on how to make the exercises heavier if you think they are too light.

Lilian Pagrot