Cancer Research UK is urging Scotland’s government and health service providers to restart existing clinical trials for cancer as quickly as possible, following a 95% drop in new patients entering trials among the pandemic.
Almost all clinical research trials in Scotland have been paused in response to COVID-19, thus removing innovative treatment options for many people living with cancer, a report to MSPs and charities also found.
The Scottish government must boost coronavirus testing so that patients can participate in clinical trials safely and be treated in safe spaces where there is minimal risk of exposure to the virus, the charity noted.
“Cancer hasn’t stopped because of the pandemic and it’s essential that clinical trials are restarted urgently,” said Marion O’Neill, Cancer Research UK’s head of external affairs in Scotland. “The Scottish Government and health boards, together with NHS Research Scotland, needs to move fast to get existing cancer clinical trials that provide a lifeline to patients and their families restarted.
“Clinical trials are such an important part of our armoury. For some of our patients with ovarian cancer, it’s the last option for them,” added Professor Charlie Gourley is Clinical Director at the Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre.
“So many trials are successful now that the pause has taken away hope for some patients when they know that they would be offered a trial under normal circumstances but, because of coronavirus, trials have been closed to new patients. This has been incredibly hard for patients.”
The Cross Party Group on Cancer are considering findings of the report, which also assessed the impact of the pandemic on cancer diagnosis, treatment and care.
Cancer Research UK recently highlighted concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on the future of cancer research, announcing that it might be forced to cut £150 million a year from its research funding because of a sharp drop in income caused by the pandemic.