Improving the quality of life and experience of care for people living with cancer

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Improving quality of life for people with head and neck cancers

by The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and The Clinical Trials and Statistics Unit, The Institute of Cancer Research

Intensity-Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT) is effective but can have debilitating side effects. To address this, the team at the Royal Marsden Hospital, in collaboration with the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), significantly refined the technique.

The modified procedure has been rolled out nationally and internationally, and it is now being used to treat an estimated 300,000 patients worldwide. The most significant impact has been reducing the risk of patients suffering xerostomia (dry mouth) and trials show that the risk was reduced to approximately 20 per cent compared with patients who had an 80 per cent risk from traditional radiotherapy.

IMRT is now used to treat head and neck cancer patients in all UK cancer networks and the technology has also been adopted around the world as a treatment for tumours in many other parts of the body including breast, prostate, paediatrics, CNS and pancreas.


Judges' comments

"A well thought-out initiative that will have improved the quality of life of many disadvantaged patients"


Highly commended

Febrile Neutropenia Risk Assessment: An integral part of chemotherapy treatment in oncology patients in Ireland

by St James’s Hospital, Dublin

The team wanted to develop a nurse-led risk assessment tool to reduce the incidence of febrile neutropenia (FN) in adult cancer patients receiving myelosuppresive chemotherapy.

A comparative prospective observational study was conducted in a hospital-based oncology unit. International evidence-based guidelines and nursing studies were used to develop and implement a risk-assessment tool to calculate the risk associated with chemotherapy and 25 patient, treatment and disease-related risk factors.

There were significant reductions in the incidence of FN and the number of hospital days, while dose reduction and treatment delays resulting from FN were lower. There was also an increase of 12.5 per cent in the use of G-CSF and social factors were found to have no impact on the risk of developing FN.

Nurses could determine which patients were at higher risk of developing FN, leading to more appropriate proactive use of prophylactic G-CSF, which meant there was a significant reduction in life-threatening infections, hospitalisations, dose reductions and delays.



Aquaterra Cancer Survivorship Exercise Programme: Aquaterra Leisure in partnership with Camden and Islington Public Health

by London Cancer

The Aquaterra Cancer Survivorship Exercise Pilot (ACSEP) provides community-based physical activity to promote the well-being of cancer survivors by increasing activity, supporting a healthy lifestyle and promoting secondary prevention. 

Participants are offered a 12 week personalised programme with a range of activities including Nordic walking, pilates, gym, studio circuits and swimming. The approach is client-centred with a strong emphasis on informed choice and personal control. 

Interim figures show increased physical activity levels by 100 per cent (mean attendance 15 sessions), improved energy (71 per cent), well-being (75 per cent) and greater confidence (65 per cent). 85 per cent of participants intend to continue with the changes and 91 per cent took advantage of an Active Health discounted membership to continue using leisure facilities after the intervention.



The Advanced Symptom Management System (ASyMS)

by University of Dundee

The Advanced Symptom Management System (ASyMS) is a mobile phone-based intervention to monitor and improve management of chemotherapy-related side effects. It is the most extensively evaluated e-health intervention in the UK and has been used by over 250 patients with lung, breast and colorectal cancer, young people with cancer; and patients with palliative care needs. 

Through the implementation of ASyMS the research teams aim to promote the quality of life and experiences of care of people with cancer.   

ASyMS promotes equality in care delivery and provides supported self-care. Published research demonstrates improvements in a range of clinical and psychosocial outcomes, including enhanced quality of life along with a high acceptability of using technology for symptom management in these patients’ groups.

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