Being a cancer patient can be daunting enough, and we like to do all we can to make the lives of patients easier. One of the Wales Cancer Research Centre's principle aims has been to improve access to clinical trials for patients across Wales, giving them access to the latest cutting edge treatments. To date we have saved 460 days of travel to research centres in England by opening more trials locally.
Currently all early phase clinical trials (when new treatments are tried for the first time in patients) that open in Wales are managed from Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff. When a patient wishes to explore an early phase trial as an option, it requires a visit to the centre in Cardiff. We wanted to make this more convenient still by helping to develop a partnership, known as AWaRe (All Wales Early Phase Research Partnership), between Velindre Cancer Centre and the South West Wales Cancer Centre.
A new information clinic in Singleton Hospital in Swansea spares patients from South West Wales the trip to Cardiff. They can now have an initial consultation in their local hospital, in suroundings more familiar to them. They can learn more about prospective early phase trials and decide if this is something they would like to consider before seeing whether they’re eligible to participate at Velindre Cancer Centre. This is particularly valuable for the handful of patients for whom a clinical trial is not suitable as it negates the need for an unnecessary, and potentially disappointing, journey.
Sian Whelan is a Cancer Research Senior Nurse at the South West Wales Cancer Centre. She said, "It’s been good to work with Kay and all the nurses at Velindre Cancer Centre to get this clinic off the ground. Our patients in west Wales can been seen in Swansea to talk about the possibility of entering an early phase trial without traveling to Cardiff for that initial consultation. Before we set up this clinic some patients would make the trip to Cardiff to be told that there wasn’t a trial available to them. We are updated by Velindre on a weekly basis so we know if there will be a trial available and we can go through a check list with the patient to look at their trial eligibility here in Swansea. This is just the beginning and we hope the service may be extended in time to provide the treatment locally too."
Kay Willson, Early Phase Team Lead at Velindre Cancer Centre said, "The collaboration between the two cancer centres has brought our teams together in a way that has huge benefits to patients and their families. This joint working is a fantastic opportunity for Welsh patients and our research community in Wales. Together we can achieve great things to impact patients' experience and outcomes."
The first partnership clinic opened in Singleton hospital at the end of September and runs every Friday afternoon. The first patient has already been seen and the team look forward to welcoming many more to discuss patient participation in research.