In partnership with the Association of Breast Surgery and Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Breast Cancer Campaign is part-funding a Breast Surgical Specialty Lead in the Royal College of Surgeons Clinical Trials Initiative.
Adele Francis has been appointed to the post, becoming the 13th national surgical specialty lead to date.
Miss Francis been appointed with the specific remit to develop new trials, establish clinical networks and to work with patients to develop and deliver new and innovative trials across the surgical disciplines.
Miss Francis is the Chief Investigator of two prospective phase III multi-centre clinical trials and has experience of trial-related issues from trial design, funding protocol writing and management of large multi-centre trials. She aims to actively encourage more breast surgeons to take part in clinical trials, by engaging with them through a Breast Surgery Network she aims to create, as well as encouraging them to become Principle Investigators and in time- Chief Investigators in their own trials.
The Clinical Research Initiative is overseen by an independent body: the Clinical Research Initiative Steering Committee (CRISC), chaired by Sir Michael Rawlins (Chairman of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)).
Research charities, including part-funders Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer, are concerned that the development of clinical research in surgery has lagged behind that of non-surgical disciplines. The units, which will be developed over five years and will seek to cover all areas of surgery, will ensure that new surgical innovations are introduced quickly, help to reduce regional variation in care and drive up standards.
Professor Norman Williams, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said:
“Surgery is under-represented in health service research. In order to address this we are joining forces to ensure that a nationwide network of surgical trial centres, which focus exclusively on clinical trials, will raise surgical standards and transform the quality of patient care across the breadth of surgery.”
“This exciting announcement recognises the important role surgery plays in treating a wide range of diseases and injuries. There’s often a focus on drugs and the hunt for cures in cancer. But surgery plays a huge role in treating many cancers and it’s only through research and clinical trials that we can build on existing foundations.”
Dr Stuart Griffiths, Head of Research Innovation at Breast Cancer Campaign, said:
“We are looking forward to working with Adele to tackle the gaps in breast cancer research and to improve treatments for the disease to ensure the 50,000 people diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year have the best possible chances of survival. We are very grateful to Walk the Walk who have funded our Research Innovation Unit which made this collaboration possible”
Dr Ornella Garofalo, Assistant Head of Research Funding at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said:
“We are delighted for Adele who we believe can lead the way in the development of new clinical trials to improve surgical services for breast cancer patients across the UK. Surgery is often the first treatment that a woman goes through after receiving a breast cancer diagnosis which is why it is so important that we are constantly evolving and improving the techniques used in this area”.
Professor Dion Morton, Director of Clinical Research at the Royal College of Surgeons, said:
“A number of factors including taking into account the complexity of operations and assigning patients to different treatment groups have contributed to the lack of investment in surgical trials. There are also specific challenges for both surgeons and patients around ensuring full consent to the procedure and participation in a trial."
"Another barrier is that hospital doctors are under pressure to maximise the time they spend delivering treatment through operations and clinics. The additional hospital visits and processes involved in surgical clinical trials can be perceived to delay the numbers of patients which can potentially be treated. This programme will provide the necessary infrastructure to help surgeons and patients overcome these hurdles.”