Some clinical trials test how diagnostic technologies, such as scans, can be used to adapt ongoing treatment depending on your response.
Michael was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in 2010 at the age of 28 and entered the RATHL trial that same year.
RATHL was a phase 3 trial looking at whether PET scans could be used to help make treatment decisions for people with Hodgkin lymphoma. A PET scan was given after 2 cycles of ABVD chemotherapy. Patients with a good response (PET negative) were randomised to continue ABVD or receive AVD with bleomycin (B) being omitted. This was to reduce the long-term side effects of treatment as bleomycin can cause lung damage. People who didn’t respond well (PET positive) were given more intensive chemotherapy.
Initial results presented in 2015 suggest omitting bleomycin is safer and just as effective in people who have a good response to the first 2 cycles of ABVD. For people who didn’t respond well, giving more intensive treatment early gave a better chance of these people going into remission.
Michael says: ‘When I was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, I was told that I may be eligible for a clinical trial. I was keen to find out more.
‘Although I only had 48 hours to make a decision on whether to enter the clinical trial, I was given plenty of information and felt I could ask as many questions as I wanted. I spoke to my family about entering the trial and they were all very encouraging about it, which I found really reassuring.
‘I had 2 rounds of ABVD and was then randomised. My randomisation was to continue with 4 more sessions of ABVD. My treatment was from September 2010 to March 2011. It should have been 6 months but my treatment was delayed because I got a cold in late December and was in hospital for 8 days getting over it.
‘While the study did not include extra trips to hospital, I was monitored very closely, including additional blood tests. I also had GCSF injections frequently and CT and PET scans. The research nurses kept me informed on how the treatment was going.
‘I’ve been cancer free for more than 4 years. I’m now married and have a baby on the way.
‘I was happy to be involved and hope that by entering a clinical trial I will be helping to improve treatments for people in the future.’
Read more about the RATHL interim trial results