Press release posted 29 August 2023
A lung cancer patient from Swinton has shared his story to encourage more patients to take part in radiotherapy clinical trials and studies at The Christie at Oldham and other local treatment centres.
James Wright, age 69, was diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year and started his radiotherapy treatment at The Christie at Oldham in May 2023. He had been diagnosed following a routine COPD check, various scans and a biopsy.
The retired father of 2, who is married to Gail and became a grandfather for the first time 15 months ago, is a keen angler and has completed 26 marathons, including 3 London marathons.
During his cancer treatment at The Christie at Oldham, James agreed to join the ReCoRd study, which aims to investigate the feasibility of using smartwatches to monitor cardiac abnormalities in lung cancer patients treated with radiotherapy.
Radiotherapy kills cancer cells, but it can also cause damage to organs that are near the tumour. When radiotherapy is used to treat cancer in the chest, the treatment planning team keeps the radiation dose to the heart as low as possible - however, the heart cannot be avoided completely.
“Being diagnosed with cancer came as a huge shock, but my consultant and the team at The Christie at Oldham have been second to none,” said James. “I cannot fault the care and treatment they provided.
“They went through all the risks of the treatment, and I was aware that the radiotherapy might have to pass through my heart.
“The day before I was due to finish the radiotherapy, one of the staff approached me to ask me if I would join a clinical study.
“It sounded like a great idea when they told me about it. I know I won’t benefit directly from this work, but if using a smartwatch to monitor a patient’s heart after cancer treatment can improve things, I think it is worth supporting.
“Wearing the smartwatch has been comfortable, and the staff set up my phone to take the readings. I also had to wear a device on my chest for 3 days.
“I hope that the information collected from me and other patients in this study will help to improve long-term care for lung cancer patients. If patients at The Christie at Oldham or any of The Christie’s local treatment centres get offered a clinical trial or study, then I urge them to get involved like I have.
“I want to thank my wife, Gail, who came to all my appointments and my children, who took turns driving me there.”
Chief Investigator Dr Kathryn Banfill explains why the ReCoRd study is important: “Participants in the study are being given a smartwatch which can monitor heart rate and take short recordings of the heart’s electrical signal. This will be compared with a conventional electrocardiogram (ECG).
“The study will see if patients are happy wearing the smartwatch and if it picks up any irregular heart rhythms after radiotherapy. This would enable additional care for patients with any cardiac issues following radiotherapy.
“Clinical trials and studies are essential in developing new methods of screening, preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer. Cancer treatment has evolved through research, so targeted treatment and personalised medicine are now routinely available. We encourage all patients to ask if any clinical trials are available to them.”
The Christie at Oldham has recently completed a £6.3 million refurbishment to replace two radiotherapy treatment machines called linear accelerators and install a new scanner to help with treatment planning.
Lead radiographer for The Christie at Oldham, Julie Davies, added: "We are thrilled to offer this clinical study to James and other suitable patients being treated with radiotherapy in our Oldham centre. We want to increase the availability and accessibility of radiotherapy clinical trials at all Christie local treatment centres so that our patients can benefit from the latest technology and advances in cancer treatments closer to home."
The £17m Oldham centre, funded by The Christie Charity, has provided care closer to home for more than 15,000 patients across North and East Manchester and delivered 160,000 treatment sessions since former Prime Minister Gordon Brown opened it in 2010.
Any patients interested in taking part in clinical trials should discuss this option with their consultant or GP. Not all patients will fit the criteria for a specific trial. While clinical trials can be successful for some patients, outcomes can vary from case to case.
Christie radiotherapy patients interested in joining a trial or study can speak to their consultant or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information and to see if they are eligible.