Our work with the health professional community
We’ve been working with the health professional community on a range of projects and activities from creating the Pancreatic Cancer during COVID-19 Network and providing secretariat to the NCRI UGI Pancreatic Cancer Workstream to supporting the development of a pancreatic cancer synoptic report.
If you’d like to speak to us about ways we can support you, please get in touch with us.
Read on to find out more about our work with the health professional community.
Creating the Pancreatic Cancer during COVID-19 (PCC) Network
The COVID-19 pandemic not only had an enormous impact on the lives of those affected by pancreatic cancer but created numerous challenges for health professionals working on the disease, with expertise and resources being diverted to treating the virus and the additional threat of vulnerable patients catching coronavirus during treatment. It meant having to learn a whole new way to take on pancreatic cancer.
In April 2020, seeing an opportunity to support the clinical community, Pancreatic Cancer UK helped to galvanize members to ensure they were learning from and supporting each other as the virus spread. A network of 289 pancreatic cancer specialists were brought together to share ideas and best practice through the Pancreatic Cancer during COVID-19 Network.
Dr Ganesh Radhakrishna, an oncologist at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“The sheer number of participants and breadth of uptake from the UK is incredible. I think it’s heartening to see the community galvanised to face this challenge.”
Watch this interview with Ganesh and Chris Macdonald, Pancreatic Cancer UK’s Head of Research to find out how we brought the community together.
Supporting the development of a pancreatic cancer synoptic report
Currently there is significant variation in the reporting templates used for radiological reporting on pancreatic cancer tumours. There is a plethora of words that are used to describe tumours which leads to ambiguity and every centre uses a different version of radiology reporting templates. The consequences of this are variability in reporting, a lack of concordance with published guidelines and differing and inconsistent interpretation of tumour stage, assessment of vascular involvement and classification of tumour resectability. In particular the classification of borderline and locally advanced disease varies significantly between units.
We have been working closely with a group of radiologists, surgeons and oncologists from across the UK to drive this project forward, enabling continued momentum despite the pandemic and bringing together different specialisms across the UK to work together.
The aim of this project is to create a standardised radiological reporting template for pancreatic cancer to enable more uniform classification of pancreatic cancer reporting and allow for the comparison of radiological results between different clinical centres across the UK. This template will allow for better, more consistent quantification of vessel involvement/grades of involvement and help move towards more standardised cancer staging/classification in the UK.
This is a unique collaborative project bringing together radiologists, surgeons and oncologists outside of a trial setting to reach a common goal, with patients with pancreatic cancer at the heart of this project.
The expectation is this template will be used by HPB radiologists for patients with non-metastatic pancreatic cancer (resectable, borderline and locally advanced cases) that are discussed at regional MDTs. The hope is that the synoptic tool will benefit management of pancreatic cancer patients in multiple ways including:
- Aid in the development of UK-wide consensus on reporting of vascular involvement in pancreatic cancer
- Form a basis for regular audit and research activity
- Assist in eliminating variation in care that exists across the UK
- Aid delivery of clinical trials by developing a greater understanding of variation in practice
Providing secretariat for the NCRI UGI Pancreatic Cancer Workstream
The NCRI UGI Pancreatic Cancer Workstream is one of four subgroups of the NCRI Upper Gastrointestinal Group, created to develop research in areas of strategic need.
The Group brings together clinicians, scientists and patients, carers and others affected by cancer amongst many others, to coordinate the development of a strategic portfolio of research within the field of pancreatic cancer. The group works closely with clinical research networks, funders and researchers to develop research to improve outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients.
We provide the secretariat to this workstream, working closely with the group chair, Dr Pippa Corrie, Consultant Medical Oncologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, to manage and deliver the biannual meetings.
Commissioning of Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SABR)
Research shows that stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy (SABR) has equivalent outcomes, or potentially improves outcomes for adults with locally advanced, inoperable, non-metastatic pancreatic carcinoma (LANPC) when compared to longer course chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Treatment with SABR reduces the risk of chemotherapy specific side effects, including the risk of getting infections. Moreover, SABR treatment has shorter duration of treatment, requires less hospital visits and also reduces the frequency of blood test requirements. Collectively, this evidence suggests that access to SABR treatment for LANPC patients can provide the potential for improved tumour control, reduced toxicity and better quality of life.
Radiotherapy is not often used in the treatment of pancreatic cancer, but was utilised more during the pandemic for many of the reasons above. Learning from this, a group of oncologists from the PCC Network were able to quickly collaborate and gain consensus on changing practice and submitted a proposition to NHS England for SABR to be made available as a treatment option for LANPC patients.
We provided support throughout the proposal. First, by ensuring patients and carers had the opportunity to share their perspective on the proposal through facilitating a focus group and survey with members of our Research Involvement Network. Second, by providing supporting feedback on the proposition as part of the NHSE consultation.
As of 2nd November 2021, NHS England recommend that SABR be available as a treatment option through routine commissioning for adults with locally advanced, inoperable, non- metastatic pancreatic carcinoma (LANPC) within the criteria set out in the official document.