Mesothelioma Patient Research Expanding in United Kingdom
The University of Sheffield has launched the Mesothelioma UK Research Centre-Sheffield, the country’s first experience-based program designed to improve the treatment and care of patients diagnosed with this aggressive, asbestos-related cancer.
Based in South Yorkshire, England, the University of Sheffield hopes to become an international pioneer in patient-led mesothelioma research.
“The program will build on our legacy of research from a number of years,’’ Dr. Clare Gardiner, of the University of Sheffield Health Sciences School and program co-director, told The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com. “Our research findings will benefit patients from around the world. There has been a real gap in research that we expect to fill.”
Gardiner said the Mesothelioma Research Centre-Sheffield will focus on generating evidence to encourage prevention and awareness and improve treatment, patient experience and outcomes for those living with the disease.
“Sadly, too many people have a really poor experience living with, and dying from, this condition,” she said. “Of course, it’s important to continue our search for a cure, but until we find that cure, we need to help these patients live the best possible lives they can with the condition.”
A Different Type of Mesothelioma Research
The research at Sheffield will not revolve around clinical trials and laboratory studies used by other specialty centers. Instead, Gardiner said it will involve generating better ways to organize services, restructuring the care received and making sure patients have the best information to make informed choices.
Their lives should be better for it.
“Helping people live well, and live a better life with mesothelioma, will be the purpose,” Gardiner said. “To be as healthy and happy as possible.”
Gardiner’s co-director for the new program is University of Sheffield professor Angela Mary Tod. Both have backgrounds in improving palliative care.
The United Kingdom has one of the world’s highest incidence rates for pleural mesothelioma, a cancer with no definitive cure. About 2,700 cases are diagnosed annually in the U.K. An estimated 50% of patients die within a year of diagnosis.
“Finding an effective treatment or cure is obviously the main priority for researchers and clinicians worldwide, but here in Sheffield, we are uniquely focused on patients’ experiences in order to drastically improve the support and care they receive,” Tod said. “Our groundbreaking work will help establish the gaps in existing knowledge and also help to identify future research priorities.”
UK Mesothelioma Centre Will Build on Previous Research
The University of Sheffield contributed previously to several mesothelioma studies, many of which involved Mesothelioma UK, a national charity founded in 2004 that has committed to funding this latest program.
Previous mesothelioma studies at the University of Sheffield included:
- The Military Experiences of Mesothelioma Study: Exploring health and support needs of current troops and veterans.
- The Mesothelioma Asbestos Guidance Study: A closer look at varying presentations made by health care workers to mesothelioma patients.
- Mesothelioma Outcomes, Research and Experience Study: The experience and outcomes of more than 500 patients were judged for satisfaction across many phases of care.
- Palliative Care Needs of Patients with Mesothelioma and Their Families: This explored the palliative care of mesothelioma by looking at the role of clinical nurse specialists.
- RadioMeso: The study identified ways to improve the patient and family experience after a diagnosis of mesothelioma.
“Mesothelioma UK Research Center-Sheffield is a huge milestone,” said Liz Darlison, Mesothelioma UK head of services. “It represents years of discussion, planning and wishful thinking.”
Gardiner believes the benefits of the program will go well beyond the UK, sharing research with leading specialty centers throughout Europe, Asia and North America.
“We’re ready to reach out to, work with and collaborate with our international partners,” she said. “We want our findings to benefit people from other countries, just as we have learned from research going on elsewhere in world. This will be a good thing for all.”