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Clinical trials are going ahead for breakthrough cancer treatments

March 2017

doctor performing operation with intelligent knife

Cancer is a word most of us know and recognise. Most of us at our age will have had contact with it either personally, or through friends or relations.

According to Macmillan Cancer Care, there are now an estimated 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK now and this number is expected to grow to 4 million by 2030. 

News of new ideas on causes and treatments come in regularly, but it is what happens next that is the important aspect. Certain ideas are sound enough to warrant further testing and eventually some of these will make their way into official clinical trials.

Cancer Research UKCancer Research UK is at the forefront of this, helping in numerous ways including funding a number of pioneering new clinical trials.  

One of their latest ongoing trials is the use of an intelligent knife to determine whether cells are normal or cancerous.

Around one in five patients who undergo breast cancer need a further operation because some of the cancer cells are left behind. Cancer Research UK is now assisting Professor Zoltan Takats of Imperial College London to test whether a breakthrough iKnife (intelligent knife) can offer precise and accurate information on the cells. How it works is that when the iKnife is used in surgery, heat discharged from this special knife shows whether the cells being worked on are cancerous or not.  If cancerous, then the surgeon can continue to work with the knife until all traces of the tumour have been removed.  The hope is that this innovative technique will help make surgery more effective and preclude the need for additional follow on surgery.

Another key area where Cancer Research UK is helping in clinical trials is in treatment for prostate cancer. Dr Isabel Syndikus of Clatterbridge Cancer Centre together with Professor Emma Hall are looking at improving radiotherapy to make it more effective without increasing the side effects.

At the moment nearly 50,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in the UK. When the cancer is contained in the prostate but has a high risk of returning, some of the usual treatment includes radiotherapy combined with hormone therapy. This doesn’t work for all men and the cancer returns. 

This test involves different ways to use radiotherapy to prevent this including giving extra radiotherapy to nearby lymph nodes.   The clinical trial could lead the way to change treatments.

In fact Cancer Research UK is supporting more than 250 clinical trials across the UK. Its groundbreaking research has already saved the lives of thousands and as more new ideas progress into authorised treatments hopefully even more lives can be saved.

They recruit around 25,000 patients every year to become involved in their clinical trials which cover a wide range of treatments including radiotherapy, immunotherapy and chemotherapy.

Find out more about this at:

Cancer Research: research on clinical trials

Cancer Research: find a clinical trial

 

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