16 September 2020

For the 14,000 people who are diagnosed with rectal cancer every year, as well as the doctors who look after them, COVID-19 has turned the world upside down.

The gold standard of treatment for most rectal cancers is surgery – but the virus has seen huge numbers of routine operations delayed or cancelled.

NHS hospitals have had to adopt new strategies to care for these patients, turning to chemo and radiotherapy for many who would either not have received it or had a shorter course.

“Bowel Research UK have today announced £10,498 of funding for a unique audit aiming to understand how these alternative approaches have varied across the country and what impact the disruption has had on patient care.”

ReCaP (Rectal Cancer Management during the COVID-19 Pandemic) will look at how services were adapted to cope with the pandemic, as well as capturing follow up data on the medium and long term outcomes of treatment.

They will also assess patients’ experiences of the situation through the use of questionnaires.

Vital knowledge on what strategies have worked the most effectively will be gained, enabling us to gain an understanding of best practice in these unprecedented times – and making sure patients get the best possible care and treatment moving forward.

We know that many patients will have suffered as a result of disruption to planned care, and this study will enable doctors to anticipate and address the problems this has caused.

At the same time, it is possible some may have benefited from having longer chemo/radiotherapy.

Lesley Booth, Director of Research at Bowel Research UK said:

“Rectal Cancer patients have faced unprecedented disruption to their treatment during the pandemic and we urgently need to understand the effects of this and how they can be addressed.”

"We’re really proud to fund this vital work on behalf of the thousands of people affected, and play our part in guiding the care of future patients." Lesley Booth
Director of Research, Bowel Research UK