Cancer treatment highlighted in Channel 4 documentary 

15/10/2014 00:00 
A documentary on Channel 4 on the 15 October at 10pm follows four UCLH patients taking part in trials of some of the most advanced cancer treatments in the world.

Dennis, Debra, Jeffery and Pete were all facing the future with trepidation, but agreed to take part in groundbreaking trials aimed at improving the way cancer is diagnosed and treated.

Made by BAFTA winning director Brian Woods, the film looks at the race to find a successful treatment for cancer before the disease spreads.

Curing Cancer compassionately follows treatments from lab at UCL to wards at UCLH and tells the story of the anxiety of diagnosis, the joy of success and the desperation of a last chance clinical trial.

The film witnesses first-hand how science is being harnessed in the ever more successful fight against cancer. In a snapshot of where the UK is in the fight, the leading doctors in their field give a fascinating insight into how the trial process works and how new treatments come on line.

Debra was diagnosed with a rare form of sarcoma which has now spread to her lungs. Difficult to treat with chemotherapy or radiotherapy, consultant Rowland Illing offers her a treatment called microwave ablation, a cutting edge procedure which can destroy tumours without the need for invasive surgery.

Dennis has been living with lymphoma for eight years.  With all conventional treatments exhausted, Dennis and his wife are faced with a stark choice – either palliative “end-of-life” care, or an experimental drug, never before used in the UK, and being tested by scientist Rakesh Popat

Jeffery fears he has prostate cancer, there’s a family history of the disease.  Diagnosis of prostate cancer can be hit and miss, with a chance of false results from traditional biopsies. Jeffery decides to take part in a trial of a new diagnostic process.  It should mean that when his consultant, Hashim Ahmed delivers the news, it will be with more certainty.

For Pete that day has passed, he knows he has prostate cancer and is gradually coming to terms with all that that may mean. His father died from prostate cancer, and he fears the same fate if he doesn't do something radical.  The possible side effects of surgery are alarming – impotence, incontinence and worse.  His doctor, Louise Dickinson offers him another option, the trial of a new experimental treatment that uses high intensity ultrasound. 

In early trials side-effects seem to be dramatically reduced.  The risk, however, is that the treatment is so new that no-one can yet say how successful it will be in preventing the cancer returning.

Using CGI the film is a scientific exploration told through the personal journeys of the individuals taking part in the trials. Sensitively filmed at home and at hospital, the film explores the emotional realities of living with cancer combined with the intense anticipation of potentially finding a cure. Through their relationship with the clinicians, we learn the science, and discover the success or failures of their treatment as they do.

The documentary is being broadcast as part of the Stand Up To Cancer Season, a joint national fundraiser from Channel 4 and Cancer Research UK culminating in a live TV event on Friday 17 October.

  • To find out more about cancer clinical trials at UCLH, click here.
  • To watch the trailer, click here.
  • To read about the director’s reason for making the film, go here.

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