Rehabilitation Strategies following Oesophagogastric and Hepatopancreaticobiliary Cancer

In our bodies, the oesophagus, stomach, pancreas and liver help us digest food. Together, they form the “upper digestive system”. The treatment used to cure cancer in the upper digestive system is surgery to remove that part of the body. Some patients also receive chemotherapy (drug treatment) before and/or after surgery.

Patients who undergo these treatments experience a number of weakening side-effects that negatively impact their ability to complete normal activities and on their quality of life. These side-effects include muscle wasting, extreme tiredness, poor appetite and weight loss. Today, increasing numbers of people are surviving after upper gastrointestinal cancer. Very little is known about the best rehabilitation (exercise and diet) advice to provide these survivors to assist them to recover fully following treatment.

In an initial study, we showed that a 12-week exercise and diet rehabilitation programme in oesophageal cancer survivors improves fitness and quality of life. We now want to examine this rehabilitation programme in a larger group of survivors of upper digestive cancer.

Sixty patients will participate in the 12-week programme, completing supervised and home-based exercises and following personalised dietary advice. Another group of 60 patients will simply have their usual medical appointments. We will examine both groups to see if rehabilitation improves fitness, quality of life, and mental, social and physical well-being.

We will examine the cost of the programme and how it could be made part of routine care for cancer survivors. Also, we will invite patients to give blood samples that we can store as a “biobank”, allowing for future valuable research studies in survivorship.

This study will show how a rehabilitation programme involving exercise and diet may help patients recover following treatment. We hope it will provide a model for the care that survivors of upper digestive cancer should receive in Ireland.

Award Date
07 March 2019
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor Juliette Hussey
Host Institution
Trinity College Dublin
DIFA - 2018