Teams at Royal Surrey have played a pivotal role in a global clinical trial, which is set to improve the quality of life of prostate cancer patients.
The study investigated the feasibility of giving patients Abiraterone, an existing prostate cancer drug, in granular form instead of its conventional tablet form. This would open up treatment options for patients who have difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), have nausea, or are on multiple other medications.
Currently Abiraterone tablets are large and uncomfortable to swallow, and have to be taken on a completely empty stomach (two hours after eating, and an hour before). The granules can be mixed into a drink and can be taken with or without food.
Royal Surrey was the first site in the UK to recruit a patient to the TAVT-45 study, the results of which showed that the granules were equally as effective as the tablet form, with a comparable safety profile.
John Phillips, 72 from Sunbury, took part in the TAVT-45 study.
“Taking part in this trial was a fantastic experience. I received excellent care, my PSA dropped significantly and I found it personally very interesting. The medication was very easy to take, and the care I got from the research team was simply smashing – they explained everything to me so clearly, and gave me advice and guidance every step of the way.”
John was one of only eight patients in the world to take part in what is known as the pharmacokinetic (PK) sub-group of a study. The PK sub-group was required to give blood samples hourly over a 12-hour period, over two separate days – an onerous request, but one the John was only too happy to meet.
“I was really motivated by wanting to help people in the future. If me going through a little discomfort now means that someone in the future has access to this medication who would not have done, then it is worth it.
“I discussed it with my wife, and agreed to take part. I have an excellent relationship with the team at Royal Surrey’s St Luke’s Cancer Centre, and have complete trust in them,” he said.
That Royal Surrey was the first site in the UK to recruit patients is down to the strong relationship between the patients and the teams at Royal Surrey, says Dr Chee Goh Consultant Clinical Oncologist (Uro-oncology), TAVT-45’s Principal Investigator.
“This achievement shows how engaged our patients are with their care,” he said. “The benefits of what they are doing will be felt, not by them, but by future patients. They are motivated to help other people, and that is an amazing thing to see in patients who are going through such a challenging time themselves.
“Having such motivated patients comes down to the fact that Royal Surrey’s cancer centre has two things – great facilities and fantastic staff,” explained Dr Goh.
“We have a brilliant team here, who have such wonderful relationship with their patients.
“It’s not simply about knowing their treatment pathway, it’s about knowing who they are as people, and genuinely taking an interest – meeting their families, and their support network. Those things are really important to building patient rapport.”