Pancreatic cancer study aims to lower morbidity rate and enhance recovery

Pancreatic cancer study aims to lower morbidity rate and enhance recovery

A research nurse is playing a significant role in a study that aims to improve survival rates for pancreatic cancer.

Elisabeth TurnerElisabeth Turner. Picture credit: Neil O'Connor

Elisabeth Turner, who works for the North West Coast Taskforce of the National Institute for Health Research’s Clinical Research Network, is helming and co-ordinating the implementation of the PANASTA trial at its lead site, the Royal Liverpool University Hospital.

The study, which is a 1:1 randomisation trial of two surgical techniques, aims to improve methods of pancreatic reconstruction and promote enhanced recovery programmes for patients with pancreatic cancer.

Unlike many other cancers where survival rates are improving all the time, less than 1% of patients with pancreatic cancer survive for longer than 10 years.

Elisabeth is responsible for the conduct of the studies, patient safety and wellbeing, and the recruitment, co-ordination and continued organisation of trial patients, along with their associated data and samples.

The recruitment and ongoing support of patients with pancreatic cancer is especially challenging as they are already struggling with complex treatment regimes and need considerable psycho-social support.

Elisabeth has also played a crucial role in educating and promoting the research among clinical staff, an ongoing challenge in a large unit where staff rotate through patient areas. Research arms in PANASTA are blinded to everyone but the operating surgeon, and Elisabeth has to ensure this is maintained during the delivery of clinical care and patient visits, and that data is collected without bias being introduced.

Elisabeth TurnerElisabeth Turner. Picture credit: Neil O'Connor

Research nurse colleague Ruth Stafferton recognised the importance of Elisabeth’s contribution to the study by nominating her for the Excellence in Cancer Research category of the RCNi Nurse Awards 2016, sponsored by Cancer Research UK.

Ruth says: ‘Research activity in all hospitals has demonstrated improved outcomes for patients. It's the enthusiasm of nurses like Beth, and patient-focused trials like PANASTA, that are making this reality happen.’

Elisabeth says: ‘I was surprised to be nominated let alone shortlisted because I felt that I was just doing my job on the PANASTA study. Now the reality has settled in I have a sense of pride that my commitment to co-ordinating the study and high quality research has been acknowledged by my peers, and that the time and effort I have put into recruitment of patients and their follow-up is appreciated.

‘Research studies such as PANASTA are needed because the morbidity rate for pancreatic cancer remains high despite technological advances. Specifically, improving methods of pancreatic reconstruction and promoting enhanced recovery programmes are steps towards lowering this statistic, as has already occurred with other forms of cancer.’

About the sponsor

Cancer Research UKCancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading charity dedicated to beating cancer through research. It is committed to improving the lives of those affected by cancer and discovering kinder, more effective treatments for patients. Cancer Research UK supports more than 250 clinical trials across the UK, helping to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured. Joining a clinical trial may have benefits for patients, as well as helping new treatments become available. Its unique clinical trials database lists all trials around the UK supported by Cancer Research UK and others. Searchable by trial name, cancer type or location, the database includes details of trials recruiting patients, as well as results from earlier trials. Written specifically for patients, it provides reliable, easy to understand information and is updated daily. Visit the clinical trials database at CRUK.org/trials.

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