World Cancer Day: Search for new cancer treatments continues during pandemic | News

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World Cancer Day: Search for new cancer treatments continues during pandemic

Cancer cells in culture from human connective tissue, illuminated by darkfield amplified contrast, at a magnification of 500x

The last 12 months have been challenging for cancer researchers all around the globe, with many studies paused while the world focuses on beating coronavirus.

But Royal Surrey is a large referral centre for cancer patients and some vital clinical trials continued despite the pandemic, providing patients with the opportunity to participate in research into novel, potentially life-changing treatment.

Oncology studies at the hospital include national and international studies that are tailored to support interventional research within cancer drug trials, new surgical techniques, radiotherapy studies and palliative care. All share the hope of finding new and better treatments that improve patients’ chance of survival and quality of life.

Laura Gordon, Research Quality and Assurance Manager, said:

“Like all hospitals, our oncology research programme has been disrupted during the pandemic. While it has been frustrating not to have our full range of trials on offer to our patients, we have worked hard to keep our high-priority studies open.”

To keep critical studies open, the Oncology Research team overcame some logistical hurdles to maintain patient safety including implementing remote follow-up visits.

Laura continued:

“We have had to adapt to new ways of working to protect our patients and we have needed to do it with fewer staff, as some of our team members were required to support the Urgent Public Health Covid-19 studies. It has been challenging at times, but we are extremely proud that we have continued to offer our patients important and potentially life-changing cancer studies during the pandemic.”

How did Covid-19 affect cancer research and trials?

Covid-19 forced many clinical trials in the UK to stop recruiting patients. This disruption was because:

  • Researchers needed to minimise the number of patients visiting hospitals, as these visits risked infecting their patients with Covid-19.
  • Some clinical staff usually dedicated to research needed to support frontline services as part of the NHS’s response to Covid-19, including supporting Urgent Public Health Covid-19 studies.

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