Cancer Research at Weston Park HospitalWeston Park Cancer Charity has a long and proud history of supporting pioneering research across a wide range of cancer types.
We funded the building of the Cancer Clinical Trials Centre onsite at Weston Park Hospital and we continue to fund the core work of this important facility, making it possible for internationally recognised, world class research to take place right here at the hospital.
The Centre is a purpose built research facility that opened in 1999 following a successful £2million fundraising campaign by the Cancer Charity. This fantastic resource for the hospital provides not only the facility to see and treat patients undergoing clinical trials, but also the infrastructure, systems and backup that are needed to enable such research to take place.
At the time of its opening, the centre was the only one of its kind in the UK, and even today remains one of only a handful of such specialist resources. Mirroring the hospital’s catchment area, patients from all over the region undergo clinical trials at the centre.
The Cancer Clinical Trials Centre
The Cancer Clinical Trials Centre
A clinical trial involves patients who, having had consultation with the medical staff, have made an informed decision to opt in to a trial testing new forms of treatment for their specific cancer, usually in the form of new drugs.
The drugs are not completely untested – they are typically at the stage where they have had previous tests to indicate the tolerability and activity which they possess.
Once the treatment has started, the patient is monitored closely through regular tests, scans and visits to the hospital. Information is gathered throughout the trial and fed into the research project. Following treatment, the patient continues to receive regular follow ups so that long term data can be recorded and also fed into the research.
The researchers obviously benefit from the information that is provided by the patient undertaking the treatment, which helps further the knowledge. There are however also benefits for the patient, namely that they get specialist support and access to a treatment that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to receive.
The centre is also perhaps unique in its approach which takes in research into all types of cancer. There are however, also a number of areas in which the centre has proven specialities, including breast cancer, lung cancer and lymphoma.
Whilst the priorities are always searching for cures and lengthening lives, our researchers also look at improving the quality of life for cancer survivors, through such areas as minimising the effect of the treatment in later lives.
Despite all of the advances in treatment, cancer research is still equally, if not even more important today, as it has been in the past; indeed the vast majority of the advances that have been made simply could not have happened without research.
Since the centre opened, over 10,000 people have participated in the hundreds of clinical trials and research studies that have been undertaken. This represents almost 1 in every 6 of all the cancer patients in the region.
Very rarely does one piece of research from one centre result in a new treatment; it is more often the collaboration of research centres both nationally and internationally which produce the advances in treatment.
Weston Park Hospital has played an important role in the research and testing of a number of new treatments, most noticeably Herceptin for breast cancer and Rituximab for lymphoma.
These new types of drugs are called ‘targeted treatment’, differing from traditional chemotherapy in that they attack only the cancer, leaving healthy cells unaffected, and today are standard forms of treatment. Weston Park Hospital played a pivotal role in the testing of these drugs, which now have benefits for patients not only here in the UK but all over the world.
The outlook for a lot of cancer patients today is much better than it has been in the past; for example, the rate of breast cancer patients living 10 years has increased from 50% to between 70 & 80% in less than 20 years.
There is also a lot of optimism for the future, as more effective and more tolerable treatments become available thanks to research that has been undertaken and is being undertaken at the moment.
Without this opportunity many of our patients quite simply would not be here today. Your support therefore not only allows us to protect future generations from this dreadful disease but it helps us to keep families together for longer in the here and now; you simply can’t give a more precious gift than that.