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University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust

Cancer treatment trial success for UHD patient

A major breakthrough in treatment that could help patients with mesothelioma survive for longer has benefited a UHD patient.

People diagnosed with the aggressive form of cancer, linked to breathing in asbestos fibres, could have more time with their loved ones when prescribed an immunotherapy drug currently used to treat several other types of cancer, new research has found.

University Hospitals Dorset patient, Carol Wesson, 73, from Wimborne, was one of the people who was part of the CONFIRM trial. Carol developed mesothelioma after years working for a company that used asbestos rope as a door seal in the manufacture of stoves.

After being diagnosed with Mesothelioma in January 2017, Carol was treated with chemotherapy. But she was then given the chance to take part in an early-phase clinical trial called VIM, and later went on to participate in CONFIRM.

Carol said: “I think it is so important for patients to be involved in research. When I was offered the chance to be part of the CONFIRM trial at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, I jumped at it. It’s wonderful knowing that you are not only potentially helping yourself, but also helping improve treatment for more patients in the future.”

Carol Wesson is one of the patients who has been able to receive nivolumab through the NHS eight months after she finished on the CONFIRM trial.

She added: “It’s made a huge difference to my life. I can go out and walk my dogs, I split logs for my wood burner, and I do my garden. I can't do everything exactly as I used to but then I am 73. I don’t take much notice of my age any more than I do of my tumour. I just get on with enjoying my life.”

Dr Tom Geldart, Consultant Medical Oncologist at UHD, said: “UHD clinicians are involved in many local, national and international research trials evaluating novel treatments across a variety of specialities.

“Clinical trials are vital to the development of new and improved treatments for us all and the positive results of the UK led, Cancer Research UK funded, CONFIRM trial come as welcome news for all patients on World Cancer Day.  

“The results of this trial, presented at the world lung cancer conference, provide evidence to support the use of Nivolumab immunotherapy treatment in patients with mesothelioma like Carol, who have previously received treatment with chemotherapy. It is hoped that data from the confirm trial will mean that Nivolumab immunotherapy will become a permanent option for suitable patients with mesothelioma in the UK and elsewhere.

The CONFIRM trial was led by researchers in Southampton’s clinical trials unit, which is funded by Cancer Research UK, alongside their colleagues in Leicester.

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