Ok to Ask about clinical research

A recent survey conducted by the NIHR Clinical Research Network showed that 95% of people surveyed said it was important to them that the NHS carries out clinical research, but less than 21% said they would feel very confident about asking their doctor about research opportunities.

One of the aims of our new strategy is to ensure that those affected by brain tumours can contribute to research and clinical trials. Currently less than 3% of brain tumour patients are on a clinical trial, compared to an average of 7.5% across all cancers. Taking part in clinical trials can give patients faster access to treatments, better care and the opportunity to play a part in defeating this disease.

To help accelerate change, we have committed to increasing our investment in early-phase clinical trials. We also host a worldwide clinical trials database with up-to-date information about trials for new brain tumour treatments.

Q&A with Ken Harper

Ken Harper had a glioblastoma brain tumour removed in April 2014. He had further surgery this March and is now on a clinical trial led by Professor Garth Cruickshank at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

How did you find out about your clinical trial?

My wife Marj and I went to the Birmingham Information Day organised by The Brain Tumour Charity. We heard Professor Cruickshank talk about a clinical trial that injects tiny beads during surgery which deliver chemotherapy directly to the brain. We noted down the name of the trial, thinking we would follow up later, but coincidentally a research nurse at Queen Elizabeth Hospital phoned the very next day to ask if I wanted to get involved! I didn't hesitate to accept the offer.

Why do you think clinical trials are important?

On Easter Saturday my daughter Victoria got married. To be honest, I didn't think I'd still be here for the wedding but I gave a speech and my family said I nailed it! Clinical trials are essential to giving brain tumour patients more of life's best moments because we cannot get better treatments without them. I've got my fingers crossed for my trial that the researchers will find some progress. The trial may not provide 100% of the solution but it might provide 1% – and that's worth doing.

What would you say to other patients about clinical trials?

For me, it was an obvious choice to go on a clinical trial. I'm giving myself the best possible chance by testing a new treatment, while making a difference to vital research.