Campaign calls on patients to think about clinical trials

Ken Hook
Ken Hook
Janine Andrade,  Siobhan Edwards-Bannon and Zoe Boxhall with the pupils learning about the human skeleton .
Picture : Habibur Rahman (171637-3)

Portsmouth pupils given tour of minor injury unit

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CANCER survivor Ken Hook is urging patients to ask about clinical trials after he took part in a test that may have saved his jaw.

Ken, 50, of Princes Drive, Waterlooville, suffered from a form of throat and nasal area cancer in 2000.

The surgery to remove the tumour, alongside the chemotherapy and radiotherapy, left his jaw very weak, as red blood cells become damaged.

The body also produces less saliva, which contains germ-fighting particles.

Any trauma to the area could cause him the loss of his lower jaw or parts of his face.

And when a routine dental check-up last year found a tooth needed removing, Mr Hook was referred to the maxillofacial department at Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham.

He said: ‘When I was referred to QA, I was told about a trial where oxygen is given to help build my red blood cells, and this could help reduce trauma to my jaw.

‘I agreed because it’s fantastic trials are taking place.’

Peter Brennan is a consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon at QA.

He said: ‘The neck and head area has the jaw, which is affected by radiotherapy, as it compromises the blood supply.

‘That is not a problem anywhere else in the body except the jaw, as it has teeth sitting in it.

‘With blood supply removed, it can lead to infection and decay.

‘The evidence of the treatment Ken had is anecdotal, but that’s why we have trials.’

The Hyperbaric Oxygen to Prevent OsteoradioNecrosis trial is being carried out by the University of Liverpool.

Before having his tooth removed, Ken, a former software engineer, had 20 two-hour sessions of hyperbaric oxygen treatment.

He would sit in an oxygen chamber that simulated being 40m under water.

The pure oxygen breathed at this level encourages the growth of new tissue and blood vessels, which repair the damage sustained during head and neck radiotherapy.

Once Ken’s tooth was removed he had a further daily two-week treatment to ensure any damage sustained was minimised and repaired.

Since then, Ken has had no problems.

On Clinical Trials Day, Ken is backing the campaign ‘It’s okay to ask’.

Each year, QA carries out around 250 trials. Now patients are being urged to ask their doctors if any trials are taking part that they could be involved in.

‘Medicine can’t move forward without research, and I owe my life to research projects,’ added Ken.

‘I had cancer before and thanks to research done before I got through it.

‘If you can, you should consider taking part in a trial.’