Bowel cancer: a clinical trial to improve treatment
Last updated: 23/12/2013
A Bobby Moore Fund for bowel cancer research project
What's this project about?
Every day, more than 100 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer.
It is the second most common cancer in women after breast cancer, and the third in men after prostate and lung cancer.
Bowel cancer can spread to other internal organs such as the liver, if not caught and treated early.
Dr Ricky Sharma is leading a clinical trial called FOXFIRE, which hopes to significantly improve survival for people whose bowel cancer has spread to the liver.
FOXFIRE is supported by the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK, which raises money for research into bowel cancer in memory of footballer Bobby Moore, who tragically died from bowel cancer aged just 51.
A transcript for this video is available.
Project closed – November 2013
Thank you so much to everyone who has helped to raise £110,000 for Dr Ricky Sharma’s research.
It’s because of your support, that we will beat bowel cancer sooner.
Fundraising and donations to this project have now closed. If you’d like to continue to support our research into bowel cancer, please take a look at the project below, which is raising money for research into the causes of this disease.
Bobby Moore Fund
If you were fundraising for the Bobby Moore Fund, you can continue to support our work.
Find out more about how you can get involved – whether you want to fundraise, take on a sporting challenge or make a donation to life-saving bowel cancer research here.
Professor Sharma gives us updates on how his research is coming along, thanking the many supporters who continue to fund his research for making it all possible.
"Over the past few months, with the opening of more treatment centres across the whole of the UK, I am pleased to tell you that a lot more patients are now being given the opportunity to participate in the FOXFIRE clinical trial. Thank you to all of you who have raised money and made such a significant contribution in making this clinical trial a success.
We are particularly excited that Belfast, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Sheffield and the Royal Marsden Hospital in London are now offering this treatment in the FOXFIRE clinical trial to patients with bowel cancer that has spread to the liver. In fact, Nottingham recruited the 100th patient in the clinical trial in May. We now have 30 centres across the whole of the UK offering this clinical trial to patients who meet the entry criteria.
On 22nd July, I will be speaking to the thousands of brave women running the Race for Life in Reading to raise money for Cancer Research UK. I am looking forward to thanking them in person for raising the money to make clinical research like FOXFIRE a reality for patients in the UK.
Professor Sharma got in touch to let us know a bit more about how he got to where he is now and what he likes doing in his spare time.
I graduated from Cambridge Medical School in 1994 and I then trained in general medicine and oncology (cancer medicine) in Cambridge, Glasgow, Leicester and the Royal Marsden Hospital, London. During my clinical training, I also completed a period of research, gaining me a PhD - so I'm a doctor of philosophy, as well as a doctor of medicine. I am currently a Clinical Senior Lecturer at the University of Oxford, a Group Leader at the Gray Institute for Radiation Oncology and Biology and an Honorary Consultant in Clinical Oncology at the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals.
I am very proud to lead six intelligent and hard working scientists and doctors in my laboratory research team, working to understand what happens to the DNA in cancers of the oesophagus (foodpipe), the bowel and the liver, helping us understand cancer better. When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my family and with my dogs, particularly walking holidays together. I try to run at least 20 km per week, often raising money myself for Cancer Research UK and other charities.
Dr Sharma has been keeping up with the great fundraising efforts for the FOXFIRE trial, and wanted to share some updates with you.
The FOXFIRE project continues to do well, with 9 centres now open across the UK recruiting new patients onto the trial. 2011 promises to be an important year for FOXFIRE; we aim to open 3 more sites this month alone, with a further 12 sites opening as the year goes on. We have now recruited 25 patients towards our goal of 500, and have had some very positive experiences and appreciative feedback from those taking part in the trial.
We will combine our data with results from a similar study called SIRFLOX, which has already recruited almost 200 people outside the UK. Combining the results of both trials will make the findings more reliable. This will tell us whether combining this new method of radiotherapy with standard chemotherapy is better than standard chemotherapy alone and if it improves the chances of survival for people whose bowel cancer has spread to their liver.
Your support of our research is helping to make a difference - thank you so much, and keep up the fantastic work.
What's the science behind this project?
Unfortunately, many people are diagnosed when the disease is advanced and has spread to other parts of the body, making successful treatment more difficult.
Bowel cancer cells can break away from the original tumour, travel through the lymphatic system or bloodstream, and start growing in other body tissues. Blood from the bowel goes directly to the liver, so this is a common place for the cancer to spread.
Once bowel cancer has spread to the liver, treatment becomes more difficult. Where possible, patients have surgery to remove tumours in the liver. Unfortunately, many patients are not suitable for surgery - for example, if their cancer has spread extensively through the liver, or if the tumours are too large to operate on.
Instead, they will usually have chemotherapy, which can help extend survival and sometimes shrink the liver tumours enough for them to be operated on.
The FOXFIRE trial aims to find out whether combining a new radiotherapy treatment with chemotherapy is better than chemotherapy alone. It will also see if more patients become eligible for surgery to remove liver tumours.
This pioneering way of delivering radiotherapy - called radioembolisation - involves injecting tiny spheres containing radioactivity directly into the blood supply of cancers in the liver. The microspheres then get trapped inside the tumour and emit radiation for a few days, which kills the cancer cells and also damages the tumour's blood supply.
The radiotherapy is targeted directly to tumours, while avoiding damage to surrounding healthy tissue. And because radiotherapy works in a different way to chemotherapy, the combined effects of the two treatments may be more effective than either treatment on its own.
At the end of this national trial, the results will show whether this new form of radiotherapy, when combined with chemotherapy, improves survival forpatients with advanced bowel cancer.
The difference you can make
Sadly, despite major improvements in bowel cancer survival over the past 30 years, around 16,000 people still die from the disease each year in the UK. It is the second most common cause of cancer death.
We urgently need to find more effective ways to treat patients with advanced bowel cancer so that more people survive in the future.
This is the largest trial of its kind in the world. If this trial is successful, the results will help shape future treatment for people with bowel cancer that has spread to the liver and help to save many more lives from the disease.
Please help us raise £110,000 to help fund the FOXFIRE trial for a year.
Meet George Cohen
George Cohen, MBE, is a patron for the Bobby Moore Fund. George was Bobby's teammate on the World Cup-winning England team in 1966.
George was first diagnosed with bowel cancer at age 36, and it recurred twice before he was finally given the all-clear in 1990.
"I'm incredibly fortunate," says George, 70. "And nothing has brought that home to me more than Bobby's death. Bowel cancer is very treatable if it's caught early enough - I'm living proof of that."
"It's my chance to pay back and celebrate the life of a friend," says George. "I help publicise the symptoms and the importance of getting early treatment."
About the Bobby Moore Fund
The Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK has raised over £12 million for dedicated bowel cancer research.
Stephanie Moore MBE, Bobby's wife, established the fund, in partnership with Cancer Research UK, in 1993. She shared this message with us:
Bobby was a much-loved father, husband and sportsman. To lose him so early from bowel cancer was a tragedy.
However, I am extremely proud that the Bobby Moore Fund is making a difference in his memory--not just through funding world class research like Dr Sharma's FOXFIRE trial, but also through raising awareness of this disease.
Thank you for supporting the Bobby Moore Fund and doing your bit to help tackle bowel cancer.