Hampshire Hospitals plays key role in ground-breaking cancer study

STAFF and patients at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital are celebrating after playing a key role in a study that looks set to revolutionise the way prostate cancer is diagnosed.

Friday 03 February 2017



Mr Richard Hindley explains a scan to Raymond Ripton, one of the patients who took part in the trial


The trial, led by the Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit, saw advanced MRI scans used to investigate whether men had developed prostate cancer, achieving stunning results that look set to dramatically improve patient care going forward.

At present, all men identified as potentially having prostate cancer are sent for an untargeted biopsy. Not only is this an invasive procedure with a number of side effects, but the trial found that it is unreliable, sometimes missing a cancer completely.

During the trial, it was discovered that using MRI scans to initially look for cancer resulted in a marked increase in cancers being identified. It also found that using an MRI to help target a biopsy resulted in 93 per cent of aggressive cancers being identified, almost double the amount picked up using the current untargeted process.

Had a system been in place where MRI scans were used to look for cancers first, 27 per cent of men in the trial would not have required a biopsy at all.

The NHS is now reviewing whether the trial outcomes can be put in to practice across the board, but the majority of men seen at Basingstoke hospital are already being investigated by MRI in the first instance. Only those men with a suspicious MRI are now undergoing a biopsy, with the scan being used to guide the biopsy to the location of the cancer, making it far more accurate.

A total of 130 men registered to take part in the trial at Basingstoke hospital over the course of the two year trial, more than all but one of the other 10 participating hospitals.

Mr Richard Hindley, a consultant urologist at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, Royal Hampshire County Hospital, in Winchester, and Andover War Memorial Hospital, was a member of the trial management group.

“The results of the trial are amazing,” he said. “What happens in the UK now will be felt around the world. We can improve outcomes and change the way we treat men with suspected prostate cancer for the better.

“My name might be on the paper but a lot of people at the trust did a lot of hard work to make this trial a success. It was a real team effort, with the urology, pathology, radiology, trials and research and development departments all involved, as well as staff in the operating theatres.



Senior Urology Nurse Specialist Philippa Aslet, Consultant Radiologist Dr Delia Peppercorn, Raymond Ripton, one of the patients who took part in the trial, and Consultant Urologist Mr Richard Hindley with one of the MRI machines used to carry out the scans


73-year-old Raymond Ripton, who lives in Old Basing, was one of the patients who agreed to take part in the trial.

He had an MRI scan first, before undergoing both targeted and untargeted biopsies. All three tests came back negative, meaning that he could have been spared the need for a biopsy.

“It’s really good news because it means that a good proportion of men will not have to go through the biopsy, which is not a particularly pleasant procedure,” Mr Ripton explained.

“I was really pleased when I found out that the study had been a success and I’m delighted that I was able to play a part. Hopefully, the knowledge that the MRI scan is a much more accurate way to detect cancer will put men’s minds at rest in the future.”

Stephen Turlin, who is 58 and lives in Basingstoke, was another patient who took part in the trial.

His MRI scan picked up a cancer, but when he came to have a biopsy, the untargeted procedure failed to identify this. He has since made a full recovery, but had he not taken part in the trial, his cancer would have gone undetected.

Mr Turlin said: “I would certainly recommend the MRI to anyone, just because it can pick up on things that the biopsy might miss. My cancer might have gone undiagnosed, so I’m really pleased that I agreed to take part in the trial.

“I feel proud that I was able to be a part of this. I decided to do it to try and help other men and hopefully with the results they have got, that will be the case.”

Basingstoke hospital-based charity Pelican Cancer Foundation, which funds clinical research to support specialist precision detection and advance the treatment of colorectal, liver, bladder and prostate cancer, also played a key part in the process.

In addition to seed-funding the early stages of the research, the trial was led by Mr Hashim Ahmed, who was the charity’s first prostate Research Fellow in 2005.

Mr Hindley said: “Without Pelican Cancer Foundation, this work may never have happened. They were very influential in funding the early research and getting radiologists involved, putting a lot of work into this project.”

Sarah Crane, chief executive of the charity, said: “We are delighted to see the ground-breaking results of this research, which Pelican seed-funded in its early days.

“Pelican is proud to support the vital and progressive work of clinical researchers and has invested more than £2million in cutting-edge cancer research since 2000.”

For more information about the work of Pelican Cancer Foundation, visit www.pelicancancer.org