Aspirin cancer study at UHMBT exceeds all expectations

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) is celebrating the fact that it is one of the top three highest recruiters to an international research study.

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 12:00 am
Updated Thursday, 31st October 2019, 12:08 pm
Oncology research team have recruited patients to the Add-Aspirin study.

The ‘Add-Aspirin’ study is testing to see if taking aspirin regularly after treatment for early stage cancer stops or delays the cancer coming back.

Helen Spickett, Research and Development Manager for UHMBT, said: “It is great news that we are in the top four internationally and third in the UK for recruiting to the Add-Aspirin study.

“Our target for the Add-Aspirin study, which started in 2015, was to recruit 50 patients and so far we have recruited 123 across all our sites.

“It’s excellent news that we have exceeded our recruitment target. One of the reasons that we have been so successful is due to the dedication of the clinicians and the hard work of the Research Nurses, but most of all the commitment to research from our patients across the bay.”

Hilary Thatcher, a Senior Research Nurse for UHMBT who has been working on the Add-Aspirin study, said: “We are delighted that we have managed to recruit so many people.

“Patients are involved in the study for five years. They are from four different cancer groups: breast cancer, colorectal, upper GI (gastro intestinal) and prostate.

“The study is looking at patients who have had cancer in these areas. All of them have had surgery or other forms of treatment.

“They are given aspirin for five years or a placebo. The aim of the study is to find out whether taking aspirin regularly after treatment for cancers that have not spread widely (early stage cancer), stops or delays the cancer coming back.

This study will compare groups of people who take aspirin and those who take placebo tablets.

“Patients taking part in the study are being given different randomly allocated doses.

“It will take a while for the results to come back but it will be very interesting as aspirin is a relatively low cost and easily accessible medication.”

Karen Burns, Senior Research Nurse based at Furness General Hospital in Barrow, added: “The team here cover both Furness General Hospital (FGH) and Westmorland General Hospital (WGH) and have contributed to approximately half the Add-Aspirin total to date.”

Claire Bartlett, Research Nurse at FGH and WGH, said: “We attribute our success in recruiting to the Add-Aspirin trial here at FGH to our supportive Oncology Research Nurses in the Research and Development department, proactive research consultants and supportive staff within the Oncology department and our fully informed and willing patients who can see the potentially positive benefits of participating in this clinical trial.”

The Research and Development team working across UHMBT consists of 13 Research Nurses, two non-medical interns, an admin support team and 20 research-active Consultants. They cover a wide variety of specialisms including Oncology, Rheumatology, Cardiology, Respiratory, Dermatology, Paediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Critical Care, Stroke, Ophthalmology and Surgery.

Hilary said: “We have a quite a lot of studies open for a team of our size with more than 100 studies open to patients at any one time. Our target is to recruit 1,200 patients to research trials throughout this financial year.”

Helen said: “Trials often look at novel ways of treating patients and any change to practice needs to be evidence-based. As part of a study patients may be seen more often than they would as part of their usual pathway. This contact with medical staff can be very reassuring for patients as

they feel they have more contact with the clinical team. From a Trust point of view, if you take part in research and have an active research department, it raises the profile of the Trust nationally and internationally.”

Hilary said: “From a patient point of view, people who take part often have better outcomes and they feel better.

“A lot of people tell us they like the fact that they have more contact with the research team. They can also have access to new drugs and treatments that are not yet available. It’s a positive thing for all involved.”

Claire added: “The trial team sends the patient a newsletter quarterly to keep patients informed and up to date on the progress of the trial and how well it is recruiting; patients really like this as it keeps them engaged within the trial throughout their treatment and follow up.”

Dr David Eaton is the Trust’s lead Oncologist on the Add-Aspirin study. The study will be concluded in 2026.

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