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ICR research team wins award for improving quality of life for cancer patients

The team at the Clinical Trials and Statistics Unit (ICR-CTSU), alongside colleagues at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, won in the “Improving the quality of life and experience of care for people living with cancer” category at the Quality in Care Awards this week.

At a ceremony held at Church House in London, the judges praised a “well thought-out initiative that will have improved the quality of life of many disadvantaged patients”, scoring the programme top out of 20 nominations.

The award came for a research programme which has led directly to changes in the way patients with head and neck cancers are treated.

Over several years, the PARSPORT clinical trial – clinically led by Professor Chris Nutting and carried out by a team at the ICR led by Dr Emma Hall – showed that a new type of radiotherapy led to fewer patients suffering long-term side-effects, particularly dry mouth (xerostomia).

The new type of radiotherapy is a refinement of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), which delivers a shaped, three-dimensional beam of X-rays to reduce the radiation exposure for tissue surrounding a tumour in the head or neck. It’s radiation to the surrounding tissues that can lead to many of the often debilitating side-effects of essential cancer treatment.

Dr Emma Hall, Team Leader in the Division of Clinical Studies at the ICR, who accepted the award on behalf of the ICR-CTSU, said: “We were thrilled to win this award alongside our colleagues from The Royal Marsden, and proud to see our work recognised by the judges. Our programme was only possible because of the close collaboration between researchers at the ICR and clinical teams at The Royal Marsden and other UK radiotherapy centres – we have a unique partnership which means we are ideally placed to carry out this sort of important study.”

Professor Chris Nutting, Consultant Clinical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden and Reader in Clinical Oncology at the ICR, said: “Our trial showed that a new radiotherapy procedure reduced the risk of dry mouth – an important and debilitating long-term side effect of treatment for pharyngeal cancer – by about one half to 38 per cent at one year, compared with 75 per cent in patients undergoing traditional radiotherapy. PARSPORT has resulted in a major change in clinical practice and contributed to IMRT adoption as the treatment of choice in this disease site in North America, Europe, China and Asia.”

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