Five Minutes with Alison, Friends of the Cancer Centre's Clinical Research Nurse
Friday, 1 March 2019
The charity is proudly funding an additional 12 research staff who are helping find new and improved ways to treat cancer. We took 5 minutes with one of this amazing team, Alison McKeever, to find out how her work is making a difference to patients.
What are clinical trials?
Clinical trials are research studies that help us find better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. All cancer treatments that are part of routine care today will have already been tested as part of a clinical trial. Each year in Northern Ireland, approximately 1,000 patients take part in cancer clinical trials co-ordinated through the Northern Ireland Cancer Trials Network based within Belfast City Hospital.
How do you support patients as part of your role in the clinical trials team?
My role involves working on a portfolio of Phase I and II clinical trials, which are researching new drugs at an early stage of development. I support patients throughout a study from the initial decision making process. It is essential that patients are given all the information about treatment options to help make the right decision for them. I am here to support the patient in understanding the information and answering any questions. Once a patient has consented to a trial, I then co-ordinate visits, investigations and support patients through their treatment.
What benefits are there for patients who take part in clinical trials?
Clinical trials give patients more treatment options and the potential to access new and innovative treatments. Patients often find satisfaction in contributing to the development of new treatments for patients in the future.
How do patients take part in clinical trials?
Participation in a clinical trial may be an option for you and your doctor, or other healthcare professional, can discuss this with you. If there is a suitable trial, the clinical trials staff will be on hand to help you decide if this is the right option for you. You will be fully informed and you will have to consent to taking part in the clinical trial before any treatment is given.
How important is Friends of the Cancer Centre to your role?
Friends of the Cancer Centre play a key role in supporting the work of the team at the NI Cancer Trials Network, providing direct funding for several members of staff, including my post. This support provides the infrastructure that allows many local people to take part in clinical trials each year and that is vital in helping us develop new and improved treatments for patients locally.