An all-Wales one-year pilot for prehabilitation in patients with advanced ovarian cancer is currently underway for all patients in Wales.

Led by Dr Sadie Jones, Mr Richard Peevor and Prof. Kerryn Lutchman-Singh, the All Wales Ovarian Cancer Prehabilitation Programme (AWOCPP) aims to provide a personalised, multi-modal approach to optimising patients physically and emotionally for their cancer treatment.

The prehabilitation programme has been designed based on input from specialist nurses, dieticians, occupational therapists, physicians and the national exercise referral scheme.

Following an initial assessment, a personalised prehabilitation programme is designed for the patient addressing their diet, chronic medical conditions, emotional well, physical wellbeing. This includes tailored exercise, sessions in collaboration with National Exercise Referral Scheme and the Maggie’s Centre that can take place face-to-face, online, or via written instructions sent to the home to accommodate for the complex geography in Wales.

The pilot is part of women’s health charity Ovarian Cancer Action’s innovative UK-wide IMPROVE UK project. The IMPROVE project is the first of its kind and is designed to specifically improve treatment received by patients by ensuring that no matter where a woman lives in the UK, or her ethnicity, she can get the ovarian cancer diagnosis and the high quality treatment and care that she needs.

This is in response to a national audit of ovarian cancer in England demonstrating a postcode lottery of varied outcomes and unacceptable disparities in survival rates for different women. The same data is not yet available for Wales but work is underway to achieve it. In this first phase of IMPROVE UK, Ovarian Cancer Action has awarded one of six grants to the AWOCPP. The funding comes from a £1 million investment the charity secured from the UK Government Tampon Tax Fund.

The AWOCPP pilot launched in Wales in January 2022 and is delivered by the 3 gynaecological cancer centres: Cardiff, Bangor and Swansea covering all ovarian cancer in Wales. Approximately 400 new cases of ovarian cancer per year in Wales so many women will benefit from this high-quality project. Joining these centres together will ensure that the women in this whole region can be given the chance of improved outcomes after treatment. 

Pilot Co-Lead Dr Sadie Jones, Consultant Gynaecology Oncology Surgeon at the University Hospital of Wales, said:

“Our goal is to ensure that all patients can benefit from expertise across Wales, improving both their cancer treatment and their long-term health and care. We hope that hope that access to prehabilitation will reduce patient stays in hospital, decrease post-operative morbidity and reduce the time it takes to get patients back to chemotherapy after surgery.

“We want to deliver a standardised, cost-effective model across all three sites in Wales by linking up staff members and maximising online collaboration – something we truly realised the potential for during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Everyone in Wales should have access to the best possible care during cancer treatment, regardless of their age, background or where they live. The benefits of effective prehabilitation are now well recognised. It is essential that high-quality, personalised prehabilitation is incorporated into routine care for patient with ovarian cancer in Wales. We have a truly excellent team of highly specialist professional running this service, their motivation and commitment is inspiring. We hope this pilot demonstrates the efficacy of such an approach so long term funding is secured at all sites.”

Cary Wakefield, CEO of Ovarian Cancer Action, says:

“Women have been living with the inequality gap in care and treatment for too long and now is the time for action and change. We welcome the determination of the team working across Wales to find solutions.”

Visit the Ovarian Cancer Action website to find out more about AWOCPP’s work and further detail on IMPROVE UK.