Support needed for local fundraising initiative for head and neck cancer research

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Next month The Liverpool Head and Neck Centre (LHNC) team comprising of University of Liverpool academics, clinical colleagues (nurses, theatre practitioners, physiotherapists, research practitioners, H&N admin team, speech and language therapists, surgeons and oncologists) will be taking part in a virtual run / cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats, organised by The British Association of Head and Neck Oncologists (BAHNO), to raise funds for research to address the long-term impact of COVID-19 on patients with head and neck (H&N) cancer.

During the COVID pandemic an international research collaboration (CovidSurg Cancer) was set up to evaluate the 30-day COVID infection rates in elective cancer. The current end point for that project is four months but many questions remain - of paramount importance is assessing whether necessary changes in care have a longer-term impact on patients with head and neck cancer.

Exceptional opportunity

The H&N arm of COVID Surg has been led from Liverpool by H&N Surgeons and BAHNO members, Professor Richard Shaw and Mr Andrew Schache. To date, information has been captured on over 2000 patients with head and neck cancer, the majority are from the UK and perhaps unsurprisingly, given the high incidence of head and neck cancer in Cheshire and Merseyside, many participants are local to Liverpool.

As a result of this research, an exceptional opportunity exists to follow these patients up and with mature data extend the project hypotheses to include aspects such as the influence of modified surgical practices on function and disease-free intervals.

If this ambition is to be fulfilled £30k funding is needed by BAHNO to support data management, site liaison, real-time queries and statisticians time.

Important lessons

Professor Shaw, said: “We are acutely aware that there was a significant reduction in cancer referrals (including head and neck cancers) during the COVID pandemic as reported widely in the press recently. In addition to the wider study aims, this project provides an opportunity to investigate the impact for our local population. We will learn important lessons for the future whilst also raising awareness of the importance of recognising and dealing promptly with head and neck cancer symptoms. Patients in our region typically present late and we need to change this.”

Support needed

Mr Schache, said: ”H&N cancer affects the Merseyside & Cheshire community more than anywhere else in the UK, with cancer rates in some parts of the region 4 times the national average. COVID has had a massive impact on the North West and Liverpool in particular – this is the opportunity to fund desperately needed research so we can better understand the impact of COVID for our patients and ultimately improve patient care”.

On Saturday, 1 August 2020 Professor Richard Shaw and Andrew Schache are part of the LHNC team which will be taking part in the virtual running/cycling journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats hosted by BAHNO to help raise the funds needed.

“By contributing to this fundraising effort you will be supporting a locally-led international study and facilitating the further investigation and follow up of our local head and neck cancer patients in relation to the COVID pandemic.”

How can you help?

Please log into the BAHNO GoFundMe page (https://gf.me/u/x9a8d9) for more information or contact Julie Crane - LHNC Centre Manager on j.crane@liverpool.ac.uk