Date: 02 July 2019
A Berkshire man who was diagnosed with prostate cancer a month before losing his brother to the condition is back to running half marathons after taking part in an NHS drugs trial.
Peter Glass, 72, urged others to volunteer for research after figures revealed there were 9,560 participants in studies supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in Berkshire in 2018/19 - the highest on record - compared to 7,018 the previous year.
The Woodley resident took part in a trial of a new prostate cancer drug at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading and completed his eighth half marathon in March.
The father-of-one, diagnosed aged 63 in May 2010, said: “The diagnosis was an awful shock. My parents both lived into their 90s, but at 63 I suddenly started thinking that I might only last another three to five years.”
Mr Glass lost his older brother, David Glass, to the condition a month after his own diagnosis. David, who lived in Australia, was diagnosed in 2003 and died in 2010 aged 65.
Mr Glass said: “I knew that the news was coming. I planned to dash out to Australia to see him one last time but sadly I didn’t because my surgeon warned me that it would be dangerous to travel because of my own cancer.
“Because he was far away and I had so many things to think about following my own diagnosis, I was very much numb to the loss of my brother at the time.”
After surgery to remove his prostate gland, Mr Glass was treated with hormone injections every 12 weeks to reduce testosterone, which makes prostate cancer cells grow faster. He was almost clear of his cancer until a blood test revealed it was returning in August 2017.
Mr Glass was then offered the ARAMIS trial at the hospital’s Berkshire Cancer Centre to see if a new drug, darolutamide, is a safe and effective treatment for men with prostate cancer where the disease has returned.
He said: “I was well aware that the alternative was chemotherapy and I’d also heard from other people that this trial drug had far fewer side effects, so when I was offered the chance to go on the trial, I thought that sounded like a much better option.”
Participants on the study - which closed in 2018 - were randomly selected by a computer to receive darolutamide or placebo (dummy drug) tablets, to compare the two. Neither research staff nor participants were told which, to avoid bias and participants continued to receive their standard treatment.
Mr Glass, who was told he received darolutamide after completing the trial last year and is in remission, said: “I felt extremely well soon after taking part in the trial and the side effects were minimal.
“I wasn’t told if I’d get the drug or placebo, but they were allowed to tell me my blood test results, so I was pleased that they were steadily improving. It wasn’t a surprise when I got a call to say the study was complete and I had been receiving the drug.”
After completing the study, participants were offered the chance to continue taking darolutamide, to see how well the drug works over a six year period.
Mr Glass, who is still taking the drug, cycles, runs and goes for walks with wife Yvonne and daughter Heather. He also ran the Wokingham Half Marathon in February and Reading Half Marathon in March for the hospital’s Royal Berks Charity.
The former civil engineer said: “It’s quite an achievement and very satisfying to be able to run 13 miles at my age. As the trial drug has had no side effects, I feel great and I can just get on with my life.
“I have also been able to improve the distance I could cycle and I can now manage 80 miles in a day. I’d have no hesitation in recommending research to others, I’ve been looked after well and it has been a very positive experience for me.”
Figures released today show an increase in the number of participants in NIHR-backed research in 2018/19. Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust recruited 7,690 participants to 105 studies in 2018/19, compared to 4,956 participants in 103 studies the previous year.
A further 1,212 participants were involved in 44 NIHR-supported studies at Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, placing it tenth out of mental health trusts in England for the number of studies. There were also 658 participants involved in NIHR-backed studies in Berkshire community settings such as GP practices.
Leslie Mokogwu, Research and Development Manager at Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have had an outstanding year at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and clinical research is thriving within the trust. Overall we’ve had a 35.3 percent increase on last year’s figures, which is a huge effort by all our investigators and staff whose support and expertise enables us to perform highly as an organisation. We are very delighted that we are able to continually offer opportunities for our patients to participate in world class research.”
Stephen Zingwe, Research and Development Manager at Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Over the last year we have made significant steps to involve more participants in research in community settings such as the diabetes centre at King Edward VII Hospital in Windsor, the Community Cardiac and Respiratory Specialist Service and The Garden Clinic for sexual health at Upton Hospital in Slough.
“We also have now compiled a list of over 1,000 individuals who are keen to be consulted to take part in clinical research that is relevant to them.”
Prof Belinda Lennox, Clinical Director for the NIHR Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands, said: “We have had another fantastic year delivering research across our region. The hard work of the research nurses, consultants and other healthcare professionals we support has led to the number of participants in clinical research increasing in Berkshire to 9,560. That is people from right across the region, in hospitals, community settings and GP practices.
“With more people taking part in research, we can make advances in medical research more rapidly than ever before, developing new treatments for the most serious, life threatening illnesses, and improving the care that our NHS can provide as a result.”
Patients are encouraged to ask their doctor about research opportunities and search for studies seeking volunteers at www.bepartofresearch.uk.