Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital has become the first district general in Europe to enrol volunteers to a vital breast cancer research trial.
The study is examining whether the disease can be detected earlier if markers in the blood can be identified in women at a high risk of developing the condition.
Other studies have provided data on genes which are a strong indicator for developing breast cancer and often lead to surgery.
Scientists say people at high risk of developing breast cancer often undergo a double mastectomy, so detecting the disease at an earlier stage could be a major step forward to eliminate the need to have surgery.
The impact on women having this surgery can cause significant psychological issues.
Hayley Webb, Research Nurse at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, who is leading the study as Principal Investigator at the trust, said: “At the beginning, COVID overruled a lot of our lives and we had to adapt to what was the most important thing at the time, but by working as a team, we’ve managed really well.”
The QEH’s breast screening department and research teams worked collaboratively to invite every woman who was eligible to join the trial when attending their check-up.
The team have successfully recruited 12 volunteers to date in a risk free manner, by aligning appointments with mammograms in an effort to reduce the potential risks to participants.
The impact of Covid-19 meant many studies had to pause and many staff refocussed on the international priority of finding ways to treat patients with coronavirus.
However, in time, the trust’s Restart process launched and the team at QEH spotted an opportunity to get the study started.
Helen Macdonald, Chief Operating Officer for the National Institute for Health Research’s Clinical Research Network Eastern said: “It is excellent to see that, despite the challenging odds, Hayley and the team have ensured that essential research can continue and patients are given the opportunity to take part in it.
“Through the years, and recent months in particular, the strengthening of our unique research community at trust, regional and national level continues to gain momentum, putting us in the best shape to find new treatments to benefit as many people as we can.”
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