Leeds Beckett teams up with partners across city to launch new Shape Up 4 Cancer Surgery programme
Shape Up 4 Cancer Surgery is funded by Macmillan Cancer Support, and delivered by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in partnership with Active Leeds, Leeds Beckett University and the University of Leeds. The programme helps people with certain cancers prepare for and recover from surgery through the provision of evidence-based physical activity, nutrition and psychological wellbeing support. This is the first partnership of its kind in Leeds.
This new approach is based on clinical and academic research that has shown the benefits of ‘prehabilitation’ - a personalised preoperative support programme. Over the next two years, more than 200 cancer patients will benefit from a bespoke plan including tailored guidance on exercise, nutrition, smoking cessation, and psychological and emotional support before, during and after their cancer surgery. It provides individuals with the tools and resources they need to be able to independently manage their health and wellbeing in the long term.
Dr Antonis Stavropoulos, Reader in Sports and Exercise Physiology at Leeds Beckett University, said: “We are very proud to be partners on this programme. It is the first time people in Leeds, who have a cancer diagnosis, will be referred to such a programme. Getting people physically fit before a major surgery may significantly reduce risk for complications, and improve recovery.
“Several studies, including ours, show that even within four weeks fitness can be improved substantially. Our input to the programme is primarily on designing an effective intervention, evaluating fitness, and ensuring participants adhere to the programme. The current programme is the first step in the development of a city-wide service that will be one of the biggest in the country.”
Patients from across Leeds with cancers such as bladder, stomach, bowel, oesophageal and pancreatic will be invited to join the programme. Patients will take part in an initial one-stop assessment clinic, before starting their personalised preparation programme designed by a team of specialists from across the city, including cancer exercise specialists, anaesthetists, dietitians, and clinical nurse specialists.
Sophie Blow, clinical lead for perioperative medicine, Leeds Teaching Hospitals, said: “We launched our Shape Up 4 Surgery general awareness campaign in 2021 and since then have been talking to patients and gaining their feedback about the online support and guidance. We have found that supporting patients with a PLAN before their surgery is actively contributing to shorter hospital stays, earlier discharges from hospital, and improving recovery after surgery.
“This new programme reaches out to cancer patients specifically. It follows the same pattern of planning around physical and lifestyle goals and our aim is to help patients prepare for and cope with surgery, spend less time in hospital as a result and prepare them for their post-treatment journey.”
Leeds Teaching Hospitals is working with leading partners across the city, including exercise specialists from Leeds Beckett University and Active Leeds. This is the first comprehensive preoperative support programme in Leeds for cancer patients.
Macmillan Cancer Support will fund the programme for two years, supporting more than 200 patients with their personalised plan. Data from the programme will be used to shape the future service, with a view that the pilot will extend beyond two years.
To participate in the programme, patients will be referred to Shape Up 4 Cancer Surgery by their Cancer Nurse Specialist.
Dr Stavropoulos is currently collaborating on a study with Sheffield Hallam University, funded by Heart Research UK, to investigate the long-term effects of vaping on the heart and blood vessels. The researchers are recruiting volunteers from Leeds and Sheffield to take part in the research study, which hopes to influence future guidelines on vaping.