Patients’ involvement in pioneering cancer trial leads to ‘practice changing’ results for NHS

Posted on in Health improvement, Research, Services, The trust

Patients’ involvement in a pioneering cancer trial at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have led to ‘practice changing’ results about how mesothelioma will be treated in the future.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that can grow in the protective lining that covers many of the body’s internal organs and is diagnosed most often in the tissue that covers the lungs and lines the internal chest wall.

One of the tests for the disease involves putting a thin tube into the chest wall which the doctor can then look inside and remove samples (biopsies) or fluid.

However these procedures can cause cancerous skin lumps called nodules to develop along the tract where the tube was put in and to try and stop them developing; patients were often given a type of radiotherapy known as ‘prophylactic irradiation of tracts’ or PIT on their chest wall.

The purpose of the PIT study was to determine whether treating the wound from patients’ mesothelioma tests with radiotherapy (or not) helped to prevent or delay small cancer growths (nodules) developing in that area.

In total, 17 patients from The James Cook University Hospital were involved in the trail with the results presented at the IASC World Conference on Lung Cancer in Yokohama, Japan, last month (October 2017).

Dr Talal Mansy, a Medical Oncologist at the Middlesbrough hospital, said: “Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma can sometimes be troubled with spread of their cancer along the tract where their biopsy was taken from which can cause pain and morbidity.

“Although many hospitals already gave PIT, we still didn’t know whether the treatment worked because the evidence was limited. The aim of the trial was to see whether this type of radiotherapy could prevent or delay small cancer growths (modules) developing.

“What these results have shown is there is no benefit to giving patients prophylactic radiotherapy to the tract site in mesothelioma patients which effectively means, in future, they will not have to go through treatment that will not help them.

“This is a practice changing result for the UK – and even worldwide – and I would like to thank all of our patients who took part as they have helped to answer an important question in the treatment of mesothelioma.

“I’d also like to thank the research and development team, our research radiographer Emma Thompson and all the radiographers who have helped to make this a success at James Cook.”