Results of the FAST-Forward study of radiotherapy for breast cancer

The NI Cancer Trials Network at Belfast Trust was one of several centres in the UK involved in the FAST-Forward study of radiotherapy for women following surgery for early breast cancer.

Between 2011 and 2014 over 4000 participants were randomly assigned to one of 3 arms:

  • 40Gy in 15 fractions (over 3 weeks – standard of care)
  • 27Gy in 5 fractions (over 1 week)
  • 26Gy in 5 fractions (over 1 week)

Five-year results are now published in the Lancet revealing a one-week course of radiotherapy in fewer but larger doses is as safe and effective as the standard three-week therapy.  Researchers have already seen a change in practice, reducing hospital visits for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as reducing demands on the health service.  Read more here.

Massive thanks to the staff and patients in Northern Ireland for their contribution to this study.

NICTN update – COVID-19

During the current COVID-19 crisis patient safety remains a priority for all our existing research patients.  NICTN has consequently taken the decision to suspend recruitment to the majority of clinical trials and other research studies until further notice.  This decision will remain under constant review.

Anyone with concerns about their treatment options should discuss this with their own doctor.

Dr David Montgomery visits NI Cancer Trials Network, 22 January 2020

Dr Melanie Morris (NICTN), Dr David Montgomery (PCUK) and Prof Joe O’Sullivan (QUB/BHSCT) 22.01.20

During a visit to the FASTMAN Centre of Excellence in Belfast, Dr David Montgomery, Prostate Cancer UK Executive Director, met with some members of the NI Cancer Trials Network. Topics discussed included current research, personal and public involvement in research and future directions.  FASTMAN is a Belfast-Manchester prostate cancer research collaboration funded by PCUK/Movember.

John’s Journey with Prostate Cancer – shared for World Cancer Research Day

The NICTN is indebted to Mr John Creswell, who has shared his account of prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment, including participation in the SPORT study at the NI Cancer Centre, Belfast.  Mr Creswell and his wife visited the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, Queen’s University Belfast, during celebrations for World Cancer Research Day, 24 September 2019.  During the event John met up with researcher Dr Ciaran Fairmichael (see photo below).

John has willingly shared his story to help raise awareness of cancer research.   NICTN wishes to thank John, and fellow participants in cancer clinical trials, without whom we would be unable to advance cancer treatments.

Read about John’s journey here:

John’s Journey with Prostate Cancer 24.09.19

NICTN and NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum Celebrate World Cancer Research Day

The NICTN and members of the NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum (NICRCF) got involved in a variety of activities to raise awareness of cancer research in Northern Ireland for World Cancer Research Day, 24 September 2019.

In Antrim Hospital, CRUK co-funded Clinical Research Nurses Philip McAuley and Alison Begg raised awareness of cancer clinical trials (see photo below).

NICTN staff and members of the NICRCF attended a tour of the NI Precision Medicine Centre in the Health Sciences Building and visited the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, QUB.  NICTN staff and Forum members alike were inspired by what they saw and heard, and wish to thank QUB for organising the visit and thank researchers and NI Biobank staff for their tour and time discussing current innovations in cancer resesarch (see photos attached).

World Cancer Day Tour Precision Medicine Centre and CCRCB QUB photos 24.09.19

Ovarian Cancer Public Information Event In Memory of Esteemed Colleague Angela Hogg 18 June 2019

Speakers (Lt-Rt) Professor Gordon Jayson, Dr Mark McComiskey, Dr Laura Feeney, Professor Richard Wilson, Mrs Julia Tolan

Staff of Belfast Trust and Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) welcomed the public and charities to an ovarian cancer information event held in the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB), QUB, 18 June 2019. The symposium, highlighting innovation in ovarian cancer research and care, was organised by NI Cancer Trials Network (NICTN) and pharmacy staff of the Belfast City Hospital in honour and recognition of their sadly and much missed colleague Angela Hogg, a passionate advocate of cancer research throughout her career and treatment for ovarian cancer.

During arrival and refreshments information stands were provided by representatives of the NICTN, NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum, Macmillan Information and Support Centre at Belfast Trust, Northern Ireland Biobank, Cancer Research UK and Cancer Lifeline. A variety of leaflets and materials were also provided by the charities Target Ovarian Cancer, Ovacome and the Eve Appeal.

Professor Chris Scott, CCRCB’s Acting Scientific Director, kicked off proceedings welcoming everyone to the Centre and providing an overview of CCRCB’s cancer research vision. The programme for the afternoon was chaired by Professor Richard Wilson, Honorary Professor in Cancer Medicine, CCRCB and Professor of Gastrointestinal Oncology at the Wolfson Wohl Cancer Research Centre, Glasgow. Richard worked with Angela over many years and he fondly recounted her vital role in cancer clinical trials and valued membership of the early phase multi-professional team. Julia Tolan, Professional Manager Pharmacy Services, Specialist and Community Services in Belfast Trust gave a moving tribute to Angela, describing her enthusiasm as Pharmacy Technician and her boundless thoughtfulness for colleagues.

Leading the talks on ovarian cancer, Professor Gordon Jayson, Christie Hospital Manchester, gave a comprehensive overview of current treatment approaches and described the research programme being conducted at the Christie Hospital (see link to slides below). Dr Laura Feeney, Clinical Research Fellow/Medical Oncology Trainee, CCRCB, illustrated the work she is currently undertaking to determine a blood biomarker for the early detection of ovarian cancer (see link to slides below).

Following refreshments, Dr Mark McComiskey, Consultant Gynaecologist at the Belfast City Hospital, described surgical advances in ovarian cancer with a particular focus on the evolution of surgery for recurrent ovarian cancer (see link to slides below).  The final speaker, Rachel Smith, Cancer Focus NI Family Service Manager, provided guidance on communicating with children when a significant adult has cancer.

Following these enlightening presentations, a lively Q&A session further demonstrated how relatable and helpful the speakers all were. Patients/public and professionals all contributed to the session and many of the sixty attendees remarked on the success of the event.

Formal feedback indicated the contribution of all the speakers, hearing about future developments in treatment and diagnosis of ovarian cancer and information about family services, had been very useful.

Note: Healthcare professionals wishing to undertake a short e-learning module on helping parents with cancer tell their children can link to ‘Cancer Conversations’ Cancer Focus NI training.

The organisers and staff are extremely grateful for the support and attendance of Angela’s dear family and friends, who contributed so much to the occasion.

See link to photographs from the event below.

Photos Ovarian Cancer Event in Memory Angela Hogg 18.06.19 CCRCB

Prof Gordon Jayson Ovarian Cancer 2017-19 18.06.19

Dr Mark McComiskey Surgical Advances in Ovarian Cancer 18.06.19

Dr Laura Feeney Early detection biomarkers in ovarian cancer 18.06.19

Belfast Top UK Recruiter to DARS

Belfast Trust was the top UK recruiter to DARS (A phase III randomised multicentre study of dysphagia optimised intensity modulated radiotherapy (DoIMRT) versus standard intensity modulated radiotherapy (SIMRT) in head and neck cancer.)  Belfast recruitment was above the original local target and the site was commended by the study co-ordinator.  Dr Keith Rooney, the local Principal Investigator, acknowledged how excellent team work had contributed to local success.  We wish to thank all the patients taking part in this study.

Karen Parsons – Finalist – RCNi Excellence in Cancer Research Award – London

Karen Parsons – Finalist RCNi Excellence in Cancer Research Award, London 04 July 2018

The NICTN team and other colleagues congratulated Karen Parsons on her success, reaching the final of the 2018 RCNi Nursing Awards. Karen was one of just five UK finalists in the Excellence in Cancer Research Award category, sponsored by Cancer Research UK. The ceremony was held in the Westminster Park Plaza Hotel in London 04 July 2018.  The event was a celebration of excellence in nursing across a range of healthcare settings and gave recognition to the amazing work of individuals and teams.

The RCNi summarised Karen’s Prostate Cancer UK funded project achievement: ‘Karen conducted a pilot project integrating holistic needs assessments (HNAs) into the role of cancer research nurses when they become the key workers for prostate cancer patients participating in clinical trials. The HNA includes assessment of physical, practical, family/relationship, emotional, spiritual/religious concerns and lifestyle or information needs. The process includes continence and erectile dysfunction assessment, and development of appropriate care plans and referral. As well as ensuring seamless patient care, a care plan is devised with the patient agreeing the best way to manage concerns or appropriate referrals are made. Positive feedback indicates high levels of satisfaction with information, contact, treatment and support.’

Ruth Boyd, Cancer Research UK Senior Nurse in NI, also attended the awards, and was privileged to present the award to the winner of the Excellence in Cancer Research Award category.

Karen Parsons (Finalist) and Ruth Boyd – RCNi Nurse Awards, London 04 July 2018

NICTN BIG Thank You for Q Radiothon Big Brunch Support

NICTN and Q Radio team – NICTN Big Brunch, NI Cancer Centre 30 May 2018

Staff from the NI Cancer Trials Network (NICTN) at the NI Cancer Centre send a BIG thank you to all the staff, patients and visitors who supported their Q Radiothon Big Brunch, 30 May 2018. A total of £566 was raised towards Friends of the Cancer Centre, Action Cancer, Marie Curie and the Cancer Fund for Children.  Adding to the fun atmosphere there was a live Q Radio broadcast by presenter Errol Doherty who interviewed staff.  Lots of goodies had been baked by staff and NICTN also wish to thank the many businesses who donated supplies for the event: Doorsteps, Lisburn Road, Windsor Co-op, Johnsons Coffee, Genesis and Brew Coffee Shop, Moy.

NICTN team members at the Cancer Centre Foyer Q Radiothon NICTN Big Brunch 30 May 2018

A Celebration of International Clinical Trials Day 2018

To celebrate International Clinical Trials Day (ICTD) members of the NI Cancer Trials Network, the NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum (Mrs Margaret Grayson and Dr Ed Goodall) and the Cancer Research UK Research Engagement Manager provided clinical trial information in the Cancer Centre foyer 18 May 2018.  Once again patients, visitors, researchers and funders at the event showed unreserved support for cancer clinical trials.  This year, to coincide with ICTD the HSC R&D Division distributed the ‘I Am Research’ leaflet, promoting the campaign ‘to shout about how fantastic research is…to raise awareness of the benefits of research and the positive impact it has on people’s lives.’  The range of support in the Cancer Centre illustrated just part of the vast tapestry of involvement in clinical research and the cancer patient pathway.  NICTN, patients and charities were joined by QUB researchers and an array of staff in the Cancer Centre including Oncologists, Nurses, Radiographers, Medical Physicists, Domestic Services and Medical and Nursing students (see photos).  Photos International Clinical Trials Day NI Cancer Centre 18 May 18