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Issue 03

Summer 2019

An answer to anaemia

New ways to tackle anaemia in bowel cancer sufferers
Vision Spotlight An answer to anaemia

Anaemia has long been recognised as a problem for patients battling cancer.

Bowel cancer sufferers often become anaemic as a result of their illness – leading to fatigue, poorer quality of life and lower survival chances after major surgery. Blood transfusions only offer a temporary fix and oral iron tablets are ineffective and poorly tolerated by patients. 

But now research suggests that giving iron intravenously could be the answer. My research has shown that in the vast majority of cases, a single infusion is much more effective than traditional treatment methods and can offer all the patient needs to replenish their iron stores. 

The effects of IV iron are still evident two to three weeks later, removing the need for daily iron tablets. We also demonstrated an improved quality of life for patients after their colorectal cancer operation among patients who received intravenous iron in the trial. 

In the vast majority of cases, a single infusion is much more effective than traditional treatment methods and can offer all the patient needs to replenish their iron stores…
Associate Professor Austin Acheson

The IVICA (IntraVenous Iron in Colorectal cancer associated Anaemia) trial was awarded the Norman Williams Prize, and this work has helped support the introduction of IV iron as a pre-operative treatment for anaemia and its increasing adoption both locally and nationally. IVICA was one of the first trials to assess the impact of intravenous iron when given prior to this surgery. 

As an international expert on anaemia, I have published several important nationally accepted guidelines as outlined in my publications. Securing £1 million funding over the past 10 years has allowed me to develop two further iron clinical trials (IRON and ICaRAS). ICaRAS multi-centre trials were funded by the National Institute of Health Research. 

Austin Acheson

Austin Acheson is an Associate Professor of Surgery/Consultant Colorectal Surgeon, School of Medicine. Follow him on Twitter for more news about his research.

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