Liverpool Health Partners plays a strategic role in Cancer/COVID-19 research

‘Approximately 2.6 million individuals live with, or have a history of, cancer in the UK, with 1000 new diagnoses each day. Of these patients, a substantial proportion require, are undergoing, or are recovering from surgery and complex treatments. ’ – The Lancet Oncology

There is concern that those who have suppressed immune systems may be at increased risk from COVID-19.  Due to cancer and/or cancer treatments resulting in impaired immune function for patients, people with cancer potentially have an increased susceptibility to the virus. This concern along with the disruption of cancer treatment and pathways, highlights the importance of research into the effects of COVID-19 on cancer.

The LHP Cancer Programme response 

The leadership team of the LHP Cancer Programme has responded to the need for co-ordinated Cancer/COVID-19 related research within the STOP COVID framework by helping to develop the teams and individuals, in collaboration with our partner Trusts, who have gone on to carry out research on Cancer/COVID-19. 

Due to Liverpool City Region having one of the highest cancer incidence and mortality in England across most tumour groups, the current pandemic presents a unique opportunity for multidisciplinary research to explore the inter-relation between COVID-19 and cancer. 

The LHP Cancer Programme, led by Professor Andy Pettitt,  has put an organised system in place that allows researchers to exchange ideas and ensure that the best local collaborators are identified and that people are able to develop the necessary partnerships to complete the research efficiently and successfully. We’ve developed a portfolio of projects that have developed into four workstreams:

  1. Adding a cancer dimension to Liverpool-led COVID-19 studies
  2. Adding a COVID-19 dimension to Liverpool-led cancer studies
  3. Developing new stand-alone Cancer/COVID-19 studies
  4. Encouraging optimal recruitment of local cancer patients into COVID-19 studies (NHS activity)

The LHP Cancer programme leadership team has also been liaising with the leadership teams for established COVID-19 research projects, as well as key LHP partners and stakeholders in the region such as the ARC, NWC CRN, and Cheshire and Merseyside Cancer Alliance.

Colleagues from across Liverpool Health Partner organisations contribute to Cancer/COVID-19 relevant research. Some examples are highlighted below.

The UK Coronavirus Cancer Monitoring Project

Dr Anna Olsson-Brown from The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre and the University of Liverpool has had an instrumental role in the UK Coronavirus Cancer Monitoring Project (UKCCMP). UKCCMP, which launched on March 18, 2020, is collecting data on cancer patients who test positive for COVID-19. The UKCCMP is researching cases of COVID-19 in cancer patients across the UK, aiming to involve over 90% of the UK’s cancer centres in the project. The project is pivotal for helping oncologists understand how cancer responds to COVID-19 and how treatments for both illnesses can adapt going forward.


A unique collaboration has been established between Professor Dharani Hapangama, University of Liverpool and Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust, and Mr Dale Vimalachandran, Countess of Chester NHS Foundation Trust, and has led to the new study SAFE-SURGERY of which The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre is a sponsor. SAFE-SURGERY is a prospective exploration of peritoneal expression of SARS-CoV2. The study has ethical approval pending and its first phase is funded by British Gynaecological Society. The findings of this study will be of great value in facilitating the resumption of surgical cancer services.

Mr Vimalachandran commented: “The COVID-19 pandemic, and with the support of the LHP Cancer programme, has brought together a research collaboration between GI and gynaecological cancer surgical teams; this is a new and exciting collaboration between two cancer specialities that we hope will continue in the future post-COVID”.


Across LHP’s region of Cheshire & Merseyside, leading surgeons of many sub-specialities participated in an international research collaboration to establish best practice for cancer surgeries – for both patients and clinical staff – in the COVID-19 era. The global project, COVIDSurg-Cancer, is a collaboration of more than 2,800 surgeons and anaesthetists from 115 countries delivering a set of studies to collect international data and efficiently inform clinical practice at a time when there is an urgent need to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on decision making and outcomes for cancer patients. The NHS surgeon community in Cheshire & Merseyside has been quick to respond to the many challenges presented by COVID-19 and the Liverpool Health Partner NHS Trusts such as Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (the Royal and Aintree sites), The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool Heart and Chest NHS Foundation Trust have endorsed the study, with their surgeons contributing to its development.

Discover how Liverpool is working to stop COVID-19

Following the success of our first Stop COVID webinar, we are going to be holding a second discussion on Friday the 26th of June from 1-2pm. The second webinar will centre around work in response to COVID-19 in Liverpool concerning mental health, cancer and vaccines.

Register for the webinar.

If you have any questions about what was mentioned in this article, please get in touch with Matina Tsalavouta at