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Help to inform a funding application discussing different radiotherapy treatment options for hepatobiliary cancer

Type of opportunity

Members of the Research Involvement Network are invited to contribute to a discussion as part of a focus group aiming to understand views on the pros and cons of new advances in radiotherapy treatment options and the importance and relevance of the below study to people with pancreatic cancer. Focus groups will be conducted virtually, via Zoom video conferencing and should last no longer than 1-2hrs.

If you prefer not to take part in a focus group there is also an opportunity to complete an online questionnaire.

Before completing this opportunity, please read the attached information sheet.

Honorarium and expenses

For members of the Research Involvement Network who attend the focus group for this opportunity, the Vocal team at The Christie are able to offer an honorarium of £20 per hour. The team are unfortunately unable to offer any honorarium for completing the survey on this occasion. 

Reasonable incidental expenses such as phone call costs, mobile data etc. can also be covered if required to take part.

Please note: The honorarium is paid via bank transfer so participants will need to have a bank/building society account and should be aware that this can take several weeks to process. If you are receiving state benefits, there may be certain conditions that you need to stick to and the amount of fees you can receive may be restricted. It is important that you are aware of these restrictions before you agree to be paid for involvement.

If you have any questions regarding the honorariums and expenses being offered for this opportunity please contact Kat Cresswell.

About the study

Survival rates for cancer of the liver and pancreas are very poor with on average only 36% of liver and only 20% of pancreatic patients surviving more than a year. Radiotherapy is important for both tumour types, but is difficult due to breathing and bowel motion. Conventional radiotherapy combines high energy x-ray treatment with x-ray imaging for guidance. However, two recent advances in radiotherapy technology have shown huge potential to improve survival in liver and pancreatic cancer:

  1. Proton beam therapy (PBT) - fires high energy proton particles at the tumour that can be made to stop at the depth of the tumour for treatment. This allows sparing of healthy tissue beyond the tumour. Modern PBT systems guide placement of the beams with a small x-ray scanner with limited image quality.
  2. The MR-Linac – delivers high energy x-rays to treat the tumour, guided by a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner. X-rays do not stop so they deliver more dose beyond the tumour. However, MR images can picture the tissues more clearly than x-ray imaging. This allows more accurate radiotherapy targeting limiting the risk of hitting healthy organs next to the tumour.

The two new treatment techniques are competing: one is better at sparing healthy tissues beyond the tumour and one is better at sparing tissue next to the tumour. Both are more expensive and complex than conventional radiotherapy but it is not clear which one is best for the patient. Moreover, both techniques need to overcome some challenges (for example, the impact of breathing and bowel motion) before they can be safely offered to these patients.  

The aims of this project are therefore to:

1. Optimise treatment with PBT and the MR-linac
2. Compare the quality
3. Compare the cost of these treatments.

Who is drafting the proposal and leading the focus group?

Dr Rob Chuter, Medical Physicist (Radiotherapy) and members of the Vocal public and patient involvement group at The Christie.

When will this opportunity be taking place?

Please express your interest to attend the focus group by no later than 4th September 2020.

The focus group will be held in September 2020. Dates will be decided once participants have been confirmed.

The deadline for returning the survey is the end of September 2020.

Who can take up this opportunity?

The focus group is open to members of the Research Involvement Network who have experience of radiotherapy for pancreatic/liver cancer-this includes personal experiences or experience as a family members/carers.

No prior experience of radiotherapy is required to complete the survey - response is welcome and valued from anyone who has been affected by pancreatic/liver cancer.

What steps will be taken to ensure that information about participants is stored and used in compliance with the provisions outlined in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?

Information will be kept by Vocal on a secure password-protected contact management system on Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust servers. Staff have received training on the new GDPR regulations and will only store information necessary for undertaking the focus group/survey such as name, contacts details (email, phone and/or address) and details of pancreatic cancer treatment.  Any personal or identifiable details shared within the interview will be taken out when notes are made.  The recordings will only be used for the purposes of this project, this may include the use of anonymised quotes. Participants can request for all their information (accept information that has already been anonymised and is therefore not traceable) to be deleted at any time by contacting wearevocal@mft.nhs.uk

How will the study benefit people affected by pancreatic cancer?

If successful, the study will help determine whether new methods of radiotherapy (Proton beam therapy and the MR-Linac) can improve survival for patients with these cancers. It is also expected that this study will feed into national trials to explore the findings further, which could potentially lead to more widespread adoption.

What next/who to contact:

Please send your expressions of interest to the attend the focus group briefly detailing your experience of radiotherapy for pancreatic cancer to Kat Cresswell.

If you would prefer to complete the online survey, please fill in your responses.