Liverpool University Hospitals new model helps pancreatic patients

Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is helping to get pancreatic cancer patients fit enough for surgery using a model that enables those that previously wouldn’t have been well enough to undergo potentially lifesaving operations, the chance of curative surgery.

Preoperative exercise, nutritional and wellbeing intervention, or prehabilitation, is where multidisciplinary teams come together prior to cancer surgery to improve the health of patients who are due to have surgery, or were earlier too sick to have surgery.

Following the merger of Aintree University Hospital and the Royal Liverpool University Hospital in October 2019, the newly formed Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is looking at piloting the scheme at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital site where they are currently trialling it with pancreatic cancer patients.

The Royal is one of the biggest pancreatic cancer units in the country and currently has over 1,700 cases discussed at pancreas specialist multidisciplinary team meetings each year to diagnose and plan courses of treatment, be it surgery, oncology or palliative care for patients.

The survival rates for those with pancreatic cancer are slim, with 20% of patients passing away within a month of diagnosis and only 7% having curative surgery. 

Declan Dunne, consultant pancreatic surgeon at Royal Liverpool University Hospital “Half of our pancreatic cancer patients that are potentially suitable for surgery cannot have it as they are not fit enough. However by using prehab on these patients, we are increasing the percentage of those who can go on to be eligible for lifesaving operations.”

Declan was one of the clinicians who helped develop the prehab service at Aintree, before he took up a consultant post at the Royal.