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Celebrating International Clinical Trials Day: The ROCS Study by Amanda Portal

19 May 2017

To celebrate International Clinical Trials Day, I would like to highlight an important clinical trial called ROCS (Radiotherapy after Oesophageal Cancer Stenting Study) that the Bristol Centre for Surgical Research is involved with. This is for patients with oesophageal cancer who are randomised to receive an oesophageal stent alone or a stent with radiotherapy. The purpose of this study is to test the impact of adding radiotherapy to a stent on:

  • the length of time swallow remains improved for
  • quality of life
  • survival.

The ROCS study is addressing a specific gap in the evidence base for sustained palliation in advanced oesophageal cancer. The study will assess the impact of radiotherapy on quality of life and survival when used in addition to self-expanding metal stent as treatment for difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia).

The single most distressing symptom for more than 70% of patients with oesophageal cancer is difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) caused by blockage of the gullet by a tumour. This causes severe restrictions on food intake, physical activity, social functioning and overall quality of life. Amongst the more effective treatments for improving swallowing, is the insertion of a metal stent across the blocked part, which then self- expands to open up the gullet (Self Expanding Metal Stent). The addition of radiotherapy may help to improve the problems caused by dysphagia and provide an additional survival benefit.

The patients on this trial are often very unwell, suffering with symptoms such as acid reflux, pain, anorexia and fatigue as well as dysphagia. I am privileged that they allow me into their homes every month to ask them questions about their symptoms and to complete quality of life questionnaires. My hope that this trial will provide answers on how best to treat this group of patients in the future.

Further information

For further information about ROCS see http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/centre-for-trials-research/research/studies-and-trials/view/rocs

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