Around 1 in 5 people diagnosed with cancer in the UK take part in a clinical trial.
A trial to see if a carbohydrate can help reduce bowel problems after radiotherapy for prostate, womb or cervical cancer (The PRESident Study)
This trial was looking at whether a carbohydrate called fructo-oligosaccharide (FOS) could help reduce bowel problems after radiotherapy for prostate cancer or gynaecological cancer.
Unfortunately, if part of the bowel is in the area treated with radiotherapy, it can become inflamed causing diarrhoea, bleeding and discomfort or pain. For most people these symptoms go away within a few weeks of finishing radiotherapy. But for some people they can be more long term. Doctors call this chronic radiation enteritis.
Sometimes, chronic radiation enteritis can get worse over time. Researchers thought that encouraging healthy bacteria to grow in the bowel may help to control chronic radiation enteritis.
FOS is a natural carbohydrate found in many foods. It stimulates the growth of healthy bacteria in the bowel and is called a prebiotic. In a small trial, FOS had changed the number of healthy bacteria in people with inflammation of the bowel. And this had improved their symptoms.
The aim of this trial was to find out if FOS could reduce bowel problems after radiotherapy for prostate cancer or gynaecological cancer.
Summary of results
Unfortunately, many of the people that the researchers had planned to enrol into this study could not take part. This was because they were unexpectedly following treatment plans that didn’t allow the use of prebiotics. So the trial could not be completed.
How to join a clinical trial
Prof Alastair Forbes
University College London (UCL)