How we’re keeping children’s cancer trials going

Trials involving young patients have continued at the hospital, despite the pandemic.

Patient Elodie Macey in OCCYP
Patient Elodie Macey in OCCYP

The Covid-19 pandemic has meant changes to the way we operate clinical trials at The Royal Marsden. Although recruitment to our paediatric trials was paused at the start of lockdown in March, the team in the Oak Paediatric and Adolescent Drug Development Unit worked tirelessly to ensure trials got back on track safely. A key focus was to ensure the collection of valuable tissue samples for research, including the Stratified Medicine Paediatrics (SMPaeds) programme, was started. SMPaeds enables experts to allocate young patients to early-phase trials based on molecular targets alongside their knowledge of the disease.

We found new ways of working to help trial patients continue treatment safely.

Tracey Crowe, Lead Nurse for Paedriatric Oncology Research at the Oak Centre for Children and Young People

Tracey Crowe, Lead Nurse for Paedriatric Oncology Research at the Oak Centre for Children and Young People said: “There have been challenging times for our patients, who often travel a long distance to our centre for treatment. Fear of the unknown was infectious, but regular contact and constant reassurance of the continuation of our service, albeit with slight changes, ensured that the families continued to receive the best care possible.

“We found different ways of working to reduce footfall into the hospital where appropriate, and helped our trial patients to continue on treatment safely and in line with the trial protocol by supporting them closer to home.

“We also converted some Royal Marsden visits to a local hospital review that included a telephone consultation with our team. This could be incorporated into future trial designs to increase recruitment.”