A WOMAN has praised a new medical trial in Southampton after her cancer has been “kept stable”.
City residents will now be able to take part in the new trial for people with a rare and aggressive cancer.
Helen Wilangowski, 70, was given a prognosis of just 18 months when she was diagnosed with mesothelioma in April 2016 after experiencing changes in her breathing.
But following the trial, she says her cancer is “stable”.
Run by Southampton researchers, the trial tests whether a targeted cancer treatment could improve survival for people with cancer linked to breathing in asbestos.
Mesothelioma develops in the lining of the lungs or abdomen and currently, only five per cent of people survive five years after diagnosis.
“It was a huge shock to find out I had this disease and it hit me badly,” Helen said.
“I didn’t even tell my children for the first few months as my daughter was doing her finals at university and I just didn’t want to worry them.”
Helen was treated with surgery and chemotherapy which kept her disease stable for several years, but then doctors discovered the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes.
She added: “I was offered the chance to take part in a clinical trial, which I jumped at.
“Thankfully, the drugs have been successful in keeping my cancer stable, but for how long no one knows.
“It means a great deal to know that more trials, like the NERO trial, are now being carried out to help find better treatments for the future.”
Dr Judith Cave, medical oncologist at University Hospital Southampton (UHS), and the Southampton Clinical Trials Unit are part of the team launching the NERO trial which aims to improve treatment options for patients with mesothelioma.
“Mesothelioma is a challenging cancer,” said Dr Cave.
“Unfortunately, there are currently very few treatment options for patients when their cancer stops responding to chemotherapy, and we therefore urgently need to explore more effective approaches to treating this disease.”
Researchers from UHS were recently involved in the University of Leicester-led MiST1 study, a small trial that showed that a class of targeted cancer drugs called PARP inhibitors did have an effect against mesothelioma.
Building on the results of MiST1, Dr Cave is now part of the leadership team working with chief investigators Professor Dean Fennell at the University of Leicester, and Professor Gareth Griffiths and his team at the Southampton Clinical Trials Unit, to run the NERO trial.
The NERO trial has been developed in collaboration with Mesothelioma UK, a national charity working to support mesothelioma patients and research into the disease.
The trial opened in Leicester earlier this year and has now also opened to patients at University Hospital Southampton, as well as at The Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow and Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton.
Patients who wish to participate should speak to their doctor or oncology team.
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