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New award for palliative care research

26 June 2012

Dr Anne Lanceley, Institute for Women's Health

A research project into palliative care, led by Dr. Anne Lanceley of the UCL Institute for Women's Health, has been awarded a £25,000 grant from national charity Target Ovarian Cancer. It is one of three grants to be awarded as part of the charity’s medical research programme, a unique nationwide funding scheme specifically targeted at ovarian cancer research.

Dr. Lanceley will use the award to fund the UK arm of an international project, led by Professor Michael Friedlander for the Australian & New Zealand Gynaecological Oncology Group (ANZGOG). The project will investigate whether chemotherapy can be successfully used for symptom relief in ovarian cancer patients. In total it will involve 800 patients from 11 countries and without this funding UK patients would be unable to take part.

Dr. Lanceley says: “I am delighted with the funding from Target Ovarian Cancer which enables us to deliver the UK arm of a study of such global significance to women’s health and end of life care.  Women often experience a lot of distressing symptoms at the later stages of their ovarian cancer illness and the majority will have palliative chemotherapy.  There are reports that this treatment fails to relieve symptoms, maintain quality of life or delay progression. The frequent hospital visits involved may adversely affect women’s experiences at the end of their lives, making this an even more challenging time for them and their families.

The study will develop better predictors of treatment response and a new questionnaire to indicate treatment benefit. These will be crucial for improved treatment decision-making and end of life care.

Dr Anne Lanceley, UCL Institute for Women's Health

“The study will develop better predictors of treatment response and a new questionnaire to indicate treatment benefit. These will be crucial for improved treatment decision-making and end of life care.

"The study is the first to take into account women’s subjective response to palliative treatments alongside objective clinical assessments. This approach will generate vital tools for clinical practice and provide unique understanding of women’s experiences of palliative treatment.”

The successful proposals were selected by the charity’s Trustees following recommendations from its Scientific Advisory Board, chaired by Professor Henry Kitchener of the University of Manchester. Unusually for a UK charity funding cancer research, lay reviewers were active members of the Scientific Advisory Board and helped score the applications. Lay reviewers included women diagnosed with ovarian cancer and relatives or friends of women that have died of the disease.  Additionally, the Scientific Advisory Board was informed by written reports from leading international ovarian cancer researchers (peer reviewers).

Annwen Jones, Target Ovarian Cancer’s Chief Executive comments: “This is an exciting step for Target Ovarian Cancer and demonstrates our commitment to supporting the development of much needed new treatments for ovarian cancer. We believe that Dr. Lanceley’s project has real potential to be of significant benefit to women with ovarian cancer and look forward to seeing how it develops.”

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