The pain which patients with mesothelioma suffer can be very difficult to control with standard painkillers. The SYSTEMS (Symptoms Study of radiotherapy in Mesothelioma) studies look at new ways to treat this pain. The studies are coordinated by the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit, based at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, and funded by the June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund and Beatson Cancer Charity.
The first SYSTEMS study was a clinical trial set up to test whether a standard dose of radiotherapy is helpful for pain in mesothelioma. This study recruited 40 patients from 3 cancer centres over 18 months and gave a standard dose of radiotherapy over 1 week to areas where the patients had most pain. Five weeks later, one third of patients reported a significant improvement in their pain score, with very few side effects.
The new SYSTEMS-2 study is comparing the standard dose of radiotherapy (given in SYSTEMS) with a bigger dose given over 2 weeks. It is believed that the bigger dose of radiotherapy may be more effective in controlling pain – but this theory needs to be tested with approximately 100 patients.
To find out more about this study – or to see if you might be eligible to take part, visit http://www.systems-2.co.uk/