A Leeds-based clinical trial focusing on making surgery safer for cancer patients has recently recruited over 150 patients.

Your donations enabled us to invest almost £250,000 to support this research, helping to fund a research fellow and clinical research nurse to conduct a feasibility trial.

The trial began in December 2022 and aims to improve the way patients are assessed prior to major abdominal surgery to help reduce complications patients face by tailoring postoperative care to the individual. The trial uses medical grade wearable technology to monitor patients’ physical health at home.

Over the past 11 months, the research, led by Professor David Jayne and his team the University of Leeds, has explored the use of the latest digital technology and AI to enhance researchers' understanding of perioperative risk.

Every patient responds differently to surgery and how an individual’s health is impacted can be unpredictable, particularly for high-risk patients. Currently, the methods used to assess the fitness of patients like the cardiopulmonary exercise test (exercising on a cycle ergometer) have some limitations for patients with mobility issues. 

Thanks to this trial, patients with bowel, pancreatic and bladder cancer now have the opportunity to use innovative wearable devices to track their fitness at home, providing a more inclusive way for surgeons to assess patients' physical health.

Alexios Dosis, Clinical Research Fellow, whose role in this project has been funded by Leeds Hospitals Charity, told us:

“There are only a few studies across the globe using wearable technology in the preoperative setting in clinical trials, and this funding has enabled Leeds to become the first to use innovative medical grade technology in research to make surgery safer for patients.”

“The focus of our trial is how we can use data and insights to prevent complications for patients’ post-surgery through monitoring their activity before an operation. We hope that this will enable us to create new models with prediction scores helping us to better understand risks that patients may face. It’s been amazing to see how willing our patients are to support research that will benefit future generations of cancer patients.”

Terry a patient involved in the clinical trial

75-year-old Terry from Bingley was invited to be part of the trial before having surgery to remove a pancreatic tumour in February, he said:

“I’ve always been fit and healthy so when I started to unexpectedly lose a lot of weight it was a shock when the doctors told me I had borderline pancreatic cancer, but thankfully it was caught early enough to operate safely. As part of the pre-operative health assessment, I took part in the traditional cycle test but I was starting to find this difficult whilst I was on treatment and losing some strength.

“So, when I was given the opportunity to try this wearable technology I thought it was a brilliant idea, it was incredibly easy to use and more inclusive for older or more frail patients who cannot take part in the more intensive exercise tests.”

“It was a no-brainer for me to be part of this trial, it’s 100% worth it if I can help improve outcomes for thousands of future patients. I’m pleased to say I’m now getting back to normal life again after my operation, I’m back to a healthy weight, I’ve been working a few days a week and enjoying gardening and walking.”

The trial will continue until 200 patients have been recruited, and, if successful, hopes to inform and unlock opportunities to expand this remote monitoring method to other patients, for example, patients waiting for transplant surgery.

The team will put together a portfolio of clinical evaluations with high-quality evidence generation to position Leeds as a leading centre in the evaluation of mobile digital healthcare technology.

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