Over the last few months we have all been aware of the negative impact that coronavirus has had on the funding of medical research. This is largely due to the significant reduction in fundraising streams that many charities rely on in order to fund research.
A lesser-known impact that coronavirus has had is a significant reduction in the enrolment of volunteers in cancer clinical trials. In the USA, patient recruitment halved between March and May 20201. In the UK, nearly 90% of charity-funded clinical trials had to stop patient recruitment in April2. Not being able to recruit patients means that potentially life-saving research is being slowed down or even stopped altogether.
The lack of face-to-face interaction during the pandemic has made recruitment even harder. A reduction in the number of patients visiting hospitals and clinics where study information is often given out makes connecting studies with appropriate people more difficult. There are also patient concerns about having to travel to participate in studies, reducing the ability to recruit participants. Being able to reach the appropriate patients with study information has never been more important. This is now more likely to be done via online channels.
How you can help
With this in mind, Against Breast Cancer have provided a new webpage to help advertise breast cancer studies looking to recruit volunteers.
Many of these studies have an online element such as questionnaires or interviews that provide information to researchers about existing treatments or new ideas for patient support. We also hope to provide a platform for PhD students who need to gather information for their studies with surveys. As these would not be classed as clinical studies it is harder to find appropriate places to advertise.
Clinical trial participation has been at the forefront of the news recently in relation to the coronavirus vaccine. The giant strides made and the speed at which this has been achieved is hugely significant. Scientists have achieved in a matter of months vaccine development that would normally take years.
The hope across many charities is that this process translates into future cancer clinical trials with the aim of speeding up newer therapies into the clinic. However, research breakthroughs can’t happen without the participation of volunteers, and this is even more important for future cancer research.Take part in a research study
(1) Unger et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2020 Jun; 3(6): e2010651