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Clinical trial in south London gives cancer survivor a new lease of life

A woman has spoken about how taking part in a clinical trial in south London has given her a new lease of life.

Preeti Dudakia, 54, from Purley, south London, took part in the SOLO-1 trial at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

The trial was a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) portfolio study led by AstraZeneca and supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network South London. The randomised trial tested if patients benefited from taking olaparib, an inhibitor drug that targets inherited genetic faults in cancerous tumours, following chemotherapy treatment in comparison to volunteers who were given the placebo.

Results last year from SOLO-1 showed almost half of patients who received olaparib to treat BRCA-mutated advanced ovarian cancer have remained disease free after five years. The BRCA gene greatly increases women’s risks of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Preeti, who was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer seven years ago, said the trial has completely transformed her life. She said:

“Taking part in the SOLO-1 trial has given me a second life. Every day is a blessing and you appreciate the little things even more. I’ve been able to resume dancing, playing the sitar and even have performed in local shows with my friends. I really want to say thank you to the research team at The Royal Marsden for saving my life. 

“I lost my mum to ovarian cancer in 2002 and it was through my involvement in this trial that we found out that the women in our family have the BRCA gene. I’ve told my cousins in India to get themselves checked out regularly and to keep an eye on things; it feels good to know this knowledge might help to keep women in our family safe.

“If my ovarian cancer ever returns then I would consider taking part in another clinical trial as everything is worth a try. We need health research to discover new treatments, diagnostics and technology to tackle diseases, so I would strongly encourage anyone to take part in research.”

Preeti also had a full abdominal hysterectomy to treat her ovarian cancer, followed by six cycles of chemotherapy.

Around half of women with ovarian cancer will live for at least five years after diagnosis, and about one in three will live at least 10 years.

Dr Susana Banerjee, Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and Reader at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, who is one of the investigators on the SOLO-1 trial, said:

“These results represent a significant step forward in the treatment of newly diagnosed advanced ovarian cancer and give us real hope for more long term survivors. I’d like to thank Preeti and all of our volunteers for taking part in such an important trial which has gone on to prove that olaparib has a substantial benefit for patients early on in treating ovarian cancer.”

You can listen to Preeti talking to Radio Jackie about her experience on the trial on the station's website, and Dr Banerjee's interview clip is also available via the Audioboom platform.

You can find out more about the SOLO-1 trial on The Royal Marsden’s website. More information about ovarian cancer is available from the NHS’s website.