23 August 2017
Mr Eric Lim, consultant thoracic surgeon at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, has been awarded £1.3 million, the largest National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) grant awarded to the Trust this year, for a study looking at mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the chest wall that is usually caused by exposure to asbestos.
In the UK over 2,000 patients are diagnosed each year with pleural mesothelioma, with deaths increasing every year and estimated to peak in 2020. So far, most treatments have been ineffective: the current use of chemotherapy is associated with patients only living for an additional three months. As a result, surgery remains an important consideration to increase the length of, and improve the quality of, life for patients.
After the successful pilot study, funded by Cancer Research UK, the research grant for the full MARS 2 trial was awarded by the NIHR which funds high quality research ‘from bench to bedside’.
Currently, the MARS 2 project is the only trial of its kind in the world looking at whether radical surgery has benefits for mesothelioma patients. The UK is the only country in the world to have previously conducted randomised trials of surgery for mesothelioma, which influenced international healthcare practitioners to reconsider procedures proven to be ineffective.
Mr Lim, who will be leading the trials, said: “The MARS 2 investigators will investigate whether ‘pleurectomy decortication’, the most common surgical procedure currently offered to patients, combined with chemotherapy, will improve length or quality of life compared to chemotherapy alone, which is the current standard of care.”
Apart from addressing the important question of whether surgery and chemotherapy combined versus chemotherapy alone in early mesothelioma is better for patients, MARS 2 will also contribute to other areas of knowledge, including trial recruitment and cost-effectiveness.
Dr Jenny Rivers, associate director for research at the Trust, said “We are delighted to receive ongoing support for this important work. The trust that NIHR puts in our researchers to deliver this programme is testament to our success in improving patient outcomes in this area and demonstrates the strength of our world-leading expertise.”
The trial will be led by Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust with collaborators at 14 other sites. The trial will be managed by the Bristol Clinical Trials and Evaluation Unit.
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