Funding for Pancreatic Cancer Research Project


Enabled by kind donations and fundraising for Pancreatic Cancer, SVF were delighted to fund the completion of a pancreatic research project at St. Vincent’s, co-ordinated by Ms. Oonagh Griffin, Pancreatic Dietician, who is currently on secondment from the clinical service, running a HRB sponsored study involving the care of patient’s undergoing neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy for pancreatic cancer. 

The study is an important component of the clinical research programme at St. Vincent’s and is being run through the Department of Surgery at TCD under the supervision of Prof. Kevin Conlon & Mr. Justin Geoghegan. The funding will allow completion of recruitment of patients for this study.  Oonagh gives an outline of the study as follows:

Pancreatic cancer is the 11th most common cancer in Ireland, but the 5th most common cause of cancer related death. Pancreatic cancer remains one of the most difficult cancers to treat – diagnosis is often difficult, surgical treatment is often followed by disease relapse and these cancers are resistant to chemotherapy compared to other tumours. However, there have been important recent developments in surgical and medical treatments that, coupled with major advances in the understanding of the basic tumour biology of the disease, are beginning to offer real hope of improvements in the outcome of this difficult disease.

From our previous research, we know that patients with pancreatic cancer often lose weight and strength during their chemotherapy.  This can make it more difficult for patients to tolerate and complete their treatment, meaning some patients need to delay treatment or receive less than their planned dose. Recovery after surgery is also prolonged.

We are carrying out a study to see if an active intervention delivered over 12 weeks, which includes regular assessment and support by a dietitian, taking enzyme tablets with meals, drinking a specialized nutritional supplement drink, and having a daily walking or step target will enable the patient better withstand their treatment. As part of the study we are also carrying out a detailed nutritional assessment before the start of chemotherapy to try and gain a better understanding of how and why patients lose weight. This information will give us a better understanding of the nutritional problems people with pancreatic cancer experience, and how best to address them. It is hoped that this work will help people with pancreatic cancer tolerate their treatment better, and reduce un-necessary suffering by recognising and treating common symptoms.”

Oonagh Griffin won Best Oral Presentation for her work, at the UCD SVHG Translational Medicine Symposium. This Symposium, which took place in June 2018, celebrates research achievements of hospital staff.

The symposium provided an opportunity for established and emerging investigators to present their work to colleagues from across the hospital community.

Projects such as this can be enhanced by additional funding.  Patient and family financial support is always welcome.

Oonagh Griffin pictured below on the right, receiving her Best Oral prize from Ms. Kay Connolly, C.E.O. St. Vincent’s University Hospital




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