Surgical Specialty Lead in Oesophageal Cancer

Professor Tim Underwood

Surgical Specialty Lead in Oesophageal Cancer

Summer 2019 Report

With the support of Heartburn Cancer UK and AUGIS, I have been fortunate to become the first Royal College of Surgeons of England Surgical Specialty Lead (SSL) for Oesophageal Cancer.  SSls are part of the RCS Surgical Trials Initiative and form a key strategic link between the designated Surgical Trials Centres and national clinical research networks within their discipline.  Until now Upper GI surgery has been represented by a single SSL covering the breadth of our association’s portfolio.  I would like to personally thank Professor Jane Blazeby for performing this role so well.  We are indebted to her for not only designing and delivering some of the best and most ambitious clinical trials, but also developing research networks in our sub-specialties.  Jane’s ongoing help and support is vital for all our research endeavours.

We are now moving into a new phase.  With charity support AUGIS has appointed SSLs in oesophageal and pancreatic cancer (Keith Roberts) and an SSL for liver surgery is in the pipeline.  I am also aware that BOMMS are considering how they might join the Surgical Trials Initiative party.  This increase in workforce with sub-specialty focus will hopefully allow us to rapidly increase the upper GI surgical trial portfolio.  We will also work together as AUGIS SSLs to harness expertise across the piece.  To start this effort Keith and I hosted our first joint research day at the RCS in February.  Keith reports on the pancreatic programme elsewhere in this newsletter.  On the oesophageal side 5 new workstreams have been developed.  Topics (see Table 1 for details) cover the breadth of the patient pathway and pick up on key themes from the recent research priorities Delphi project.

Importantly, a number of the workstreams are trainee led and all have significant trainee involvement.  Encouragingly, at consultant level a new cadre of young, research active upper GI surgeons are driving things forward.  Our initial efforts are focussed on understanding the current state of play in a number of areas through snap-shot audit and cohort studies.  These will hopefully develop in short order into interventional studies that the whole community can participate in.  The oesophageal group met again at the beginning of June and the progress in all areas was fantastic.  This is testament to the hard work and motivation of the theme leads and their teams – thank you.  Further updates will take place at our annual scientific meeting in September.