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Can exercise help people with pancreatic cancer recover from the side effects of treatment and improve the quality of daily life?

Research title: PRECISE: PancREatic Cancer: Individualised Supervised Exercise: a feasibility study.

Why is this trial being carried out?

If pancreatic cancer hasn’t spread outside the pancreas (localised pancreatic cancer), surgery to remove the cancer is the best treatment option. After surgery, you should be offered chemotherapy to try to stop the cancer coming back.  

Surgery and chemotherapy can cause side effects, such as pain or feeling very tired (fatigue). Having cancer and treatment can also cause anxiety. These side effects can affect how people feel in their day-to-day life. It is important that side effects are managed to help people cope with their cancer and treatment, and to help them feel better.

Research into other types of cancer, such as breast and prostate cancer, has shown that doing physical activity during treatment can help with some side effects, and how people recover from treatment. But we don’t know if physical activity has the same benefits for people having treatment for pancreatic cancer.

The PRECISE study is taking place in Belfast. It will plan exercise programmes for people having chemotherapy after their surgery. Each person taking part will have their exercise programme planned based on what they are able to do. The study will find out if doing exercise during treatment is practical for people with pancreatic cancer, and if it can help them feel better and recover well from surgery and chemotherapy.

Who is this study suitable for?

The PRECISE study may be suitable for you if you:

  • have pancreatic cancer and have had surgery to remove the cancer
  • you are having or will be having chemotherapy after your surgery
  • you are well enough to take part in this study – your doctor can talk to you about this.

The PRECISE study is not suitable for you if:

  • your surgery has not removed all of the cancer – your doctor can tell you more about this
  • you have heart problems, or have chest pain when you do exercise.

There may be other reasons for not being able to take part in this study. It is important to speak to your doctor about whether this study might be suitable for you.

What does this study involve?

The PRECISE study will take place at the same time that you are having chemotherapy, and will last for 16 weeks.

The research team will design an exercise programme for you for the 16-week study. The exercise will be suited to what you feel able to do, and it can be changed depending on how you are feeling that day. If you are dealing with any side effects from your treatment you can miss an exercise session and speak with the research team about rescheduling.

You should aim to do the exercise you are given twice a week, and you can do this at home in your own time. Each exercise session should take no more than 45 minutes. If you are able to, you can do the session while being supervised by the research team over a video call. In the future, the exercise sessions may be face to face with the research team at the hospital – the research team will keep you up to date about this.

The exercise will involve lifting some weights to try to improve your strength, and some aerobic exercises like walking. The research team will explain any exercises in more detail.

The first and last session of the study will take place at the hospital and take around one and a half hours. In this time, you will have some measurements taken to check your fitness levels. This includes measuring your weight and doing a 6-minute walking test, which will see how far you can walk in this time. These measurements are done at the beginning and the end of the study to see if your fitness levels have changed.

What happens when the study finishes?

At the end of the study you will meet with a professional to talk about continuing exercising at home. You can also talk to them about any questions you have about exercising, and how you are feeling about exercise after taking part in the study.

You will also be asked to visit the hospital 3 months after the study has finished. This is to see if your fitness levels have got any better after finishing the study, and to see how you are feeling day to day.

Recruitment start date: September 2020

Recruitment end date: August 2021

  • Trial centres

    The PRECISE trial is being carried out in:

    Belfast City Hospital, Belfast, BT9 7AB

    Trial lead

    Dr Gillian Prue

    Trial researcher

    Dr Dominic O’Connor

    Contact information

    You can contact the trial centre by emailing dominic.oconnor@qub.ac.uk or calling 07721880765

  • How to join a trial

    Speak to your consultant about whether this trial is suitable for you.

    If you have any questions about pancreatic cancer you can speak to one of our specialist nurses on our Support Line.

    How to find out more

    For further information about this trial go to the ClinicalTrials.Gov website.

    For references used to develop this information please email us.