A new clinical trial for ovarian cancer has given a retired supply teacher from North Wales fresh hope in her battle against ovarian cancer.
Judy Poulton (61) is the first patient at The Christie to join the pioneering trial; she started having her treatment three days before Christmas.
"I was so relieved when I met Professor Jayson at The Christie and he was so positive. He gave me a list of options and one of them was a clinical trial", said Judy. "His attitude and approach filled me with hope."
Judy had previously been diagnosed with ovarian cancer shortly after her 60thbirthday in November 2013. She had been living in London when suddenly her abdomen swelled up over a two week period. There had been no other symptoms prior to this unexpected change.
Her GP referred her for a scan and a CA125 blood test (one of the key tests for ovarian cancer). The scan showed no sign of cancer but the blood test came back showing dangerously high levels of CA125 and she was urgently admitted to Glan Clwyd hospital to have the fluid in her abdomen drained. At this point the ovarian cancer diagnosis was confirmed.
Judy had an initial course of chemotherapy in North Wales between October 2013 and April 2014 but a scan in September 2014 showed the cancer was still there. She then decided to seek out the latest specialist treatment from The Christie and was referred to Professor Jayson in October 2014.
She was offered a number of options, including joining a new clinical trial for Fosbretabulin and Pazopanib taken in combination.
"I feel like the trial is going well", says Judy. "I've got my first scan on 9thFebruary when I will get an early indication if the treatment is being successful."
"I can't speak highly enough of the care and support I have had from The Christie", she continued. "My research nurse Paula has been wonderful. On one of my visits, I was with her from 8am in the morning until after 8.30pm. She works so hard, is always busy looking after patients, never complains and is always so cheerful and positive. She phones me at home to check how I'm getting on and is so patient with me. It feels like she really cares."
Judy will have six cycles of treatment with each cycle lasting four weeks. She has a weekly visit to receive an intravenous infusion for three of the four weeks and has a week off to recover at the end of each cycle. In addition, she has to take a daily combination of four tablets.
Fosbretabulin is one of a family of chemicals called combretastatins that are extracted from the bark of the African Bush Willow.
All cancers need a blood supply to survive and Fosbretabulin is one of a group of drugs called vascular disruptive agents or VDAs which choke off the blood supply to tumours, causing them to shrink and die.
Taken together, with Pazopanib, the hope is that they will be more effective in tackling Judy's ovarian cancer than traditional chemotherapy.
Professor Gordon Jayson, Judy's consultant, and one of two lead investigators for the trial (the other being Professor Gordon Rustin from Mount Vernon Cancer Centre) commented: "This is an extremely exciting trial that tests the benefits of adding two classes of anti-blood vessel drugs in ovarian cancer. We hope that this will establish improved treatment options for our patients"
Judy and her husband John (who have been married for 34 years) have now decided to sell up in North Wales and move closer to The Christie. "We've put our house on the market and want to move closer to The Christie so that I can guarantee that I will continue to be able to have my treatment at The Christie - even when the clinical trial ends", she said.
The trial is being supported by the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Trials Coordination Unit (MAHSC-CTU).
If the trial is successful it could lead to further research into the use of VDAs for other types of cancer.