Living well with and beyond cancer
Professor Annie Young at Warwick Medical School is trialling a new programme for cancer survivors to identify whether nutritional advice, psychological care and exercise - all lifestyle changes - can make a difference to long term physical and mental recovery.
We asked her to explain the project for those who might want to know more about it.
So after finishing months of cancer treatment, you should be thrilled and elated - but in fact many patients can feel lost and unsure of what next.
Traditionally in the NHS, there has been a full stop at this time - so after this time of trailing up to the hospital frequently, you are sent off home with maybe only a check-up with your oncologist. But think about what patients have been through - the intensive chemo or radiotherapy which has had so many side effects; they might have weight loss or gain; they might look and feel a lifetime older, and the impact on self-confidence can be massive.
We want to test whether a programme of assessment, information and activity in different settings can make a difference to those who have survived this awful disease.
We are evaluating three different approaches: the current approach, sometimes this is ‘do nothing’ or ‘find out for yourself’ where patients are not proactively provided with any formal activity programme on sign off from hospital; a self-managed approach where patients have a ‘facilitator’, for example, a physiotherapist visiting their home and are provided with a set of suggested activities, eating programmes etc to carry out under their own steam; and a group programme where participants meet on a regular basis at a community or health venue to discuss their coping mechanisms and concerns and do activities together.
Participants will be randomly allocated to one of the three programmes and we will measure the same factors in each group including how the participants feel emotionally and physically as well as their general health (blood pressure, heart rate, BMI etc).
If it looks like we have one programme that produces better outcomes than another in this pilot phase, we will undertake a very large UK-wide trial to have a strong argument to put the programme to NICE - National Institute for Health, Care and Excellence- who then decide whether to roll the programmes out on the NHS. Because the NHS is publicly funded, it’s important to provide evidence that something works effectively before it can be adopted. We hope that this programme will prove whether an intervention can improve cancer patients’ health and wellbeing."
Thank you to everyone who's helped to support Annie's work - we're very grateful for your donations, and we look forward to reporting back over time.
Giving to Cancer Research at Warwick supports innovative trials like PRO-REHAB, as well as research into new treatments and quicker, less invasive diagnostic methods.