A clinical trial for lung cancer that has spread to the brain
About Paula Mulvenna
Dr Paula Mulvenna is a consultant clinical oncologist who specialises in improving the quality of life for people who have cancer that cannot be cured. She is based at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne. Dr Mulvenna is leading a unique national clinical trial called Quartz, funded by Cancer Research UK. This trial is for people with non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has spread to the brain.
Lung cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in the UK. The disease is often advanced by the time it is diagnosed, as it can spread rapidly to other parts of the body.
There are currently limited treatment options for people with lung cancer that has spread to the brain. Most patients have steroid drugs, which can ease the symptoms caused by the cancer. In the past, doctors have also used radiotherapy to the brain to try to improve patients' quality of life. But although radiotherapy for secondary brain cancer can help with some symptoms, it also causes side effects. So overall doctors are not sure if radiotherapy to the brain improves patients' quality of life or not, which is why Dr Mulvenna is running this trial.
Quartz is a unusual clinical trial as it is testing whether the quality of life for the patient is any different if radiotherapy is used or not. All patients in the trial will continue to have steroids and they will have access to physiotherapy and specialist nurses. One group of patients will have brain radiotherapy and the other will not. The trial is currently recruiting around 1,000 patients from across the UK. In the future Dr Mulvenna's results will help ensure the best care and quality of life for people with lung cancer that has spread to the brain.
Other research projects by Paula Mulvenna
CRUK/07/001: QUARTZ - A phase III multicentre randomised trial to assess dexamethasone +/- whole brain radiotherapy in patients with inoperable brain metastases from non-small cell lung cancer
Funding period: 01 January 2007 to 31 May 2015