Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cancer Patients Given Fresh Hope

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cancer Patients Given Fresh Hope

Article excerpt

Byline: By Alison Dargie

North doctors have developed pioneering treatment which could dramatically cut cancer deaths in older sufferers.

Researchers have identified a programme of chemotherapy and medication that improves survival rates of people over 60 with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a potentially fatal cancer of the lymph glands.

The intensive treatment, discovered at the new Tyneside Leukaemia Research Centre at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary, can raise the chance of survival from four in 10 to six in 10.

But it is prescribed by too few doctors, according to Professor Steve Proctor, who is heading the project.

The centre is setting up an international databank of cases of Hodgkin's in the over-60s to find out why there has been no improvement in the survival rates in that age group over the past decade and to improve cure rates.

Doctors, initially in the UK and later Europe, will be asked to log the results of patients they have treated on a website which can be accessed by researchers on Tyneside.

Researchers will then be able to compare results of the treatment programme pioneered in the North-East with results of other measures, and doctors across the world will be able to keep up with advances in treatment via the website.

Patients will also be able to log on to the website to find out more about their condition but stringent data protection measures have been put in place to protect patient confidentiality

Prof Proctor said: "There have been fantastic advances in the treatment of Hodgkin's in young people and the chances of survival after one shot of treatment are eight in 10, compared to four in 10 for older people.

"Here in the Northern region we now have drugs, a combination of drugs in fact, which can improve the chances of survival - if we get them in in time.

"The major problem is the fact that there isn't a uniform pattern of treatment across the UK. It is still very higgledy-piggledy.

"There are around 250 patients a year in the UK with this disease in this age group, which means individual doctors may see as few as one or two cases a year. …

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