Being asked if you’d like to take part in a clinical trial for breast cancer the day the disease is diagnosed may seem a bit harsh.
But as Luton&Dunstable Hospital oncology research sister Louise Rivett explained: “For some trials we’ve got to approach patients prior to starting chemotherapy because they have to agree to extra scans and biopsies.”
The L&D is currently recruiting for five breast cancer projects and is one of only four centres countrywide involved in the trial of a medication which may help future treatment.
The NeoMet Study is attempting to discover how a widely-used diabetes drug appears to protect women from breast cancer.
Harlington district nurse Justine Towle – who was diagnosed with invasive ductal cancer in July – said she was ‘honoured’ to be asked to take part: “I thought it might not only benefit me but also help people in the future.
“Being in a trial doesn’t affect statutory treatment.
She added: “I’m quite a positive person and I think the right attitude is really important.
“I’ve always been very aware of checking myself and within a fortnight of finding a lump everything had been arranged – chemo first, then surgery.
“The care has been phenomenal – it’s been very strange experiencing it from the other side.” The mother-of-three has also had tremendous support from her husband and family. Sister Rivett said: “We think the drug has anti-cancer properties and we want to understand how it works.
“We’re also looking at giving it to patients for two years after treatment to prevent cancer recurrence.”
There are very specific inclusion criteria for clinical trails and patients who are eligible (about 20 percent of those diagnosed with cancer) will always be approached by the research team.
Research and development director Dr Christopher Travill said: “We’re very proud of our involvement in many national and international studies across various medical specialities.
“The results often lead to improved patient care and safety.”
> The L&D has launched a new initiative to improve awareness of clinical trials within the Trust.
If you’d like more information contact a member of the oncology research team on 01582 718292 or visit www.cruk.org/trials