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Case study: The only way cancer treatment can advance is through research - Judith’s story

POETIC-A is investigating whether adding a new drug alongside standard treatment reduces the chance of early breast cancer returning.

Judith was approached by one of the Trust’s research nurses about joining the POETIC-A trial (PreOperative Endocrine Therapy for Individualised Care With Abemaciclib). Judith said: “The nurse explained that I met the criteria to join the trial and what was involved. I then went away to consider the information and I decided I was happy to join the trial. There was no pressure to join, it was very much my decision.

“Before I joined the trial I had surgery to remove the localised area and then underwent a mastectomy. Once healed I was randomised to the treatment arm. I started taking the trial drug, abemaciclib in June 2022 which I took three times a day. I was monitored carefully and had regular blood tests. The research team was compassionate and always there if I had any problems or questions.

Participants are randomised to receive either ‘standard endocrine therapy alone’ or ‘standard endocrine therapy and abemaciclib’.

Judith continues: “Unfortunately I experienced side-effects of the medication but I wanted to continue on the trial because the only way to move forward with cancer treatment is to be involved in research. The research team was fantastic, they were very supportive and the level of care was exceptional. They could not have done more for me when I was experiencing side effects.

“Sadly, I finally decided to withdraw from the trial. It was not a problem for me to leave the trial early, it was down to me to make the decision which was respected. I am still involved in the trial as I will continue to have follow-ups with the research team for the next two years.

“Although I had to withdraw from taking the trial medication I would take part in research again. If you have the opportunity to participate in research, take it. We will not have new treatments for cancer if people like me did not volunteer.”

More information about the trial can be found on the NIHR’s Be Part of Research website and The Institute of Cancer Research website.

The trial is also running at Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, and Royal Surrey County Hospital, Guildford.