23rd May 2020
It has been widely reported in the last week that in the UK recruitment to clinical trials for cancer including secondary breast cancer have been stopped because of Covid-19. As a result, many stage 4 patients are missing out on potentially life-saving access to drugs that could keep them alive for longer.
Make 2nds Count is raising awareness and supporting the demand for this to be addressed by the UK Government, NHS trusts and wider cancer research community.
Lesley Stephen, trustee of Make 2nds Count first highlighted the issue when speaking to The Herald. "No new clinical trials for 6-12 months means a huge step backwards in terms of Britain's research capability, and probably many more cancer patients dying sooner than they otherwise would because they can't access a trial."
For secondary breast cancer patients, clinical trials can offer a vital lifeline when other treatment options have been exhausted and offer hope for the chance of more time with their families and friends.
It is estimated in the UK 450 people die every day from cancer. 12,000 die from secondary breast cancer each year. Continuing to withdraw access to clinical trials as well as delays to medical research due to the Covid-19 pandemic will cause many more deaths and for stage 4 patients there is no time to wait.
Make 2nds Count patient champion Karen Hilton, from Edinburgh, was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in 2018. She has been unable to join a drug trial with devastating effect to her chances of living longer. Read her story in The Scotsman.
“Having medical professionals turning their attention away from secondary breast cancer trials to focus on Covid-19 feels like they’re switching off the life support for thousands of stage 4 cancer patients. Unfortunately, coronavirus is going to be around for a long time, but many cancer patients won’t be and access to drugs via clinical trials is crucial.
For me and thousands like me, it’s literally a case of life and death and I can only hope that sanity prevails and these decisions are reversed as a matter of urgency.”
Lisa Fleming, founder of Make 2nds Count said: “Covid-19 has already impacted the treatment and surgery of many secondary breast cancer patients, so the current decision to delay cancer clinical trials in the UK is simply unacceptable. Moreover, the postponement of trial recruitment is the equivalent of signing a death sentence for those whose only hope may be getting on a trial.”
Joanne Lacey, Chair of the charity’s Board of Trustees added: ‘Denying patients access to potentially lifesaving drugs is already heart breaking for patients now, but stopping clinical trials until next year will see the UK’s cancer research schedule fall further behind and impact future patients for years to come.
Make 2nds Count is urging the UK health bodies and broader cancer community to take immediate action. We must work together towards restarting clinical cancer trials as soon as possible, prioritising those with the most patient-benefit in order to give advanced breast cancer patients with limited treatment options the hope of more time with their loved ones.”
Together we can Make 2nds Count!