Leeds cancer patient helps find new NHS treatments

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A cancer patient who signed up to a drugs trial to help find new treatments for his condition has urged others to consider clinical research.

Paul Driver, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2017, was offered the chance to take part in the research by his consultant at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Latest figures show the Leeds trust is the best in the country for increasing the number of patients taking part in research.

Dr Driver, 68, is helping to test out a drug which is specially tailored to his condition after tests were carried out on the cancer tissue.

It is hoped the FOCUS4 clinical trial will lead to treatments which keep cancer under control for longer in between rounds of chemotherapy.

Dr Driver, a former University of Leeds research scientist, said he was shocked to learn that the cancer had spread to his liver after being diagnosed.

He said: “It was the first time I’d had any serious symptoms and yet apparently the tumour was two years old. The outlook for me wasn’t too good.”

Dr Driver, who lives in Leeds with wife Judith, takes a tablet once a day and is seen every three weeks at Leeds Teaching Hospitals. One in three patients on the trial are selected at random not to receive the drug so its effectiveness can be tested.

Dr Driver said: “I have good days and bad. “After I’ve taken a cycle of the drug, I feel normal. My prognosis when I was diagnosed was that I would live for a further one to five years and here I am a year later.

“The drug has at least given me freedom, for six months or so, from further chemotherapy.” Mr Driver is among tens of thousands of patients in Yorkshire and Humber helping with clinical research. Latest figures show more than 80,000 signed up for research in the region in 2017-18, an increase of almost 10,000 on the previous year.

Nationally, more than 725,000 people signed up for research last year. More than 3.2m have taken part in studies over the last five years, according to the National Institute for Health Research.

NEW UNIT TO OPEN

Leeds Teaching Hospitals is preparing to open a new £4m clinical research facility.

The 18-bed unit is set to open in the spring.

Dr Jacqueline Andrews, Director for Research and Innovation at the trust, said: “We are delighted that Leeds Teaching Hospitals has been able to contribute so significantly to NIHR recruitment to studies this year.”