Specialist Oncology Dietitian’s post radiotherapy research wins academic award

A RESEARCH project looking at the impact of offering nutritional support to patients after their radiotherapy treatment has scooped an academic award.

Specialist oncology dietitian Robynne Cranston has won the PENG (Parental & Enteral Nutrition Group) Academic Award for its positive impact on post radiotherapy patients.

Robynne took on the role at Newcastle Hospitals in 2017 to undertake a research project looking at the benefits of dietetic intervention in head and neck cancer patients after their radiotherapy treatment.

Funded by The Charlie Bear for Cancer Care Charity – which is committed to funding innovative work for the benefit of cancer patients receiving treatment in the Northern Centre for Cancer Care (NCCC) - she was appointed to help investigate the impact of early intervention on admissions and length of stay.

The two-year study looked at delivering nutritional support to post radiotherapy head and neck cancer patients once per week for eight weeks, instead of patients awaiting dietetic review in the community, which could take up to seven weeks for a first initial contact after treatment.

Weekly appointments were introduced in an existing clinic, which also involved specialist speech and language therapists and clinical nurse specialists, providing patients with more support for their tube feeds and high calorie/protein diets.

Robynne’s role also included setting up a dietetic-led telephone clinic, as well as education and training to staff in the NCCC, so patients had an extra level of dietetic weekly support.

The results have been amazing including a reduction in overall percentage weight loss, a reduction in total length of stay for those admitted for nasogastric tubes, an increase in patients stopping oral nutritional support, reduced length of time on enteral feeding, an easier transition back to a regular diet after radiotherapy and overall better quality life for patients.

Since starting her role, Robynne’s work has been nominated for many awards including being a finalist in this year’s Therapies Services Conference and also the Trust’s Celebrating Excellence Awards.

This latest accolade means she will present her work at the BAPEN Nutrition Conference in November, where she will also collect her award. Robynne will present the results of her work at Birmingham BDA Oncology dietitians study day in November and is looking forward to sharing how beneficial the study has proven to be.

“It has been so rewarding to see the results of the study; it really has improved patient experience and their overall quality of life and I hope in the future, with funding, we are able to continue providing this extra level of care for patients,” said Robynne.

 “I am really looking forward to sharing the results of the project and just how much it has benefited our trust”

Robynne collaborated with several other staff members throughout the study including specialist dietician Nola Lynch and lead specialist dietician Isobel Bowe. She also worked with consultant clinical oncologist, Dr Rachel Pearson, as well as Dr Shaid Iqbal and Dr Charles Kelly who provided direction for future plans on how to take the results of the study even further.


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