Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A study comparing a single radiotherapy treatment with a course of radiotherapy treatments for cancer pressing on the spinal cord (SCORAD Feasibility study)
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This was a pilot (feasibility) study to see if it would be possible to do a larger trial looking at whether one large treatment (fraction) of radiotherapy works as well as several smaller fractions of radiotherapy, in people who have cancer pressing on the nerves in their spine. This study was supported by Cancer Research UK.
Sometimes, cancer cells can travel around the body and begin to grow near the backbone (spine). This can cause pressure on the long bundle of nerves (spinal cord) inside the backbone, which connect the brain to many parts of the body. Doctors call this spinal cord compression. It causes pain and numbness. People with spinal cord compression need to have treatment quickly to relieve the pressure.
Doctors usually treat spinal cord compression with radiotherapy. The number of radiotherapy doses (fractions) you have depends on how well you are. If you are too unwell to cope with a series of treatments, you have a single large fraction of radiotherapy. If you can cope with lots of smaller fractions, you have these daily over a week or two. Doctors want to know whether these treatment plans give similar results. If having a single fraction works just as well, it would mean quicker treatment and less time in hospital. The aims of this pilot study were to see if it would be possible to recruit people into a larger trial looking at this.
Summary of results
This pilot study showed that recruitment into a larger trial was possible and a phase 3 trial opened in 2010.
How to join a clinical trial
Professor Peter Hoskin
Cancer Research UK
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)
University College London (UCL)
This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/06/034.