Colchester: Cancer study trial gives new hope

AN ESSEX hospital has played a major role in a landmark study that is giving new hope to patients with advanced bladder cancer.

The clinical trial found an increase in the survival rate five years after diagnosis for disease sufferers who were treated with a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, rather than radiotherapy alone – from 35% to 48%.

Thirty-five advanced bladder cancer patients from Essex County Hospital in Colchester took part in the 360-patient trial between August 2001 and April 2008.

Dr Bruce Sizer, consultant oncologist at the Essex hospital, said: “This is an extremely important study because it found that combining radiotherapy and chemotherapy considerably improved survival and may be similar to removing the bladder surgically. The average age of patients with muscle-invasive bladder cancer is about 70 and a cystectomy is a major operation with potential risks so an alternative, but equally successful treatment will be welcomed, particularly by older patients who might not be fit enough for such big surgery.”

Dr Sizer has co-authored a research paper about the outcome of the trial which has been published in the prestigious The New England Journal of Medicine.

He also paid tribute to his nursing and radiography colleagues in the eight-strong Clinical Trials Unit at the hospital who recruited the patients into the trial.

Patients from many parts of north Essex and mid-Essex have been visiting the Essex Urological Cancer Centre at Colchester General Hospital since it was opened in November 2006.

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Peter Betts, who lives in Great Oakley with wife Suzanne, was one of the 35 patients in the trial.

Mr Betts, 71, was diagnosed with bladder cancer in November 2006. He underwent tumour removal surgery followed by a six-week course of radiotherapy and two weeks of chemotherapy. He is now in remission.

He said: “As far as I’m concerned, I’m 100% fine. The last time I had a bladder check-up there was no problem at all.

“I was lucky enough to be accepted on the clinical trial and the treatment I received was marvellous and I would recommend this course of treatment to everyone.”

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