Research Findings from the Christie Hospital

Posted on: September 6, 2009

I guess it goes without saying that every small part of our lives is shaped by innovation, from making our first cup of the tea in the morning to reading a printed book in bed at night. But it’s rare that one stops to think how many people are involved in making our lives better, easier and longer – and those unsung heroes are all around us.

When my Dad was diagnosed with with lung cancer, we were pleased that he had recently moved to Greater Manchester and had the marvelous Christie Hospital on his doorstep.


The Christie Hospital, Manchester

At his first visit to Christies in August 2006, my Dad was advised that his cancer was inoperable and was offered the ‘regular treatment’ or the chance to be part of a trial, combining two drugs with uncertain results. My parents made, for them, an easy decision. There was no way that my dad was going to live, but by being part of research like this, the chances of future sufferers might be improved.

I was reminded of my parent’s decision when I opened a copy of the Summer 09 Christie members magazine and read the headline “Christie consultant leads on international trial”.

In this case focusing on patients with advanced and challenging gall bladder and bile duct cancers, a trial led Dr Juan Valle of the Christie Hospital discovered that a new combination of drugs has extended the life of his patients by up to a third. Four hundred patients across the country took part in the trial which ran from May 2005 to September 2008 – all took gemcitabine, but only half took cisplatin as well. Patients who took both lived on average three months longer and had 28% less chance of the cancer growing, than those who took only one.

Although this is the same drug combination as in my Dad’s trial, I’m not sure if it’s precisely the same study. This is because when l looked for more details I found an overwhelming volume of information on so many cancer trials. It was a poignant reminder of the sheer human capital that is applied in medical research every day, right here in Manchester and throughout the world, from scientists, doctors, nurses and supporting teams, and we owe them a great debt. But let’s not forget the patients and families, whose contribution is personal and invaluable, and may just help change the world.

Donate to the Christie Appeal here and help us all move Towards a Future without Cancer.


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