Patients taking part in SYSTEMS-2 will have some blood tests taken as part of their routine care, but we are also aiming to collect some extra blood samples from patients who give their permission for this. The reason we would like to do this is because we plan to study the blood samples in the laboratory to see if they can be used to predict which patients are more likely to respond to radiotherapy. If we can use blood tests in this way, then it may help doctors in the future to select patients for longer courses of radiotherapy as part of their treatment and this may eventually help to change the way that mesothelioma is treated.
We are aiming to collect these additional blood samples at 3 different times throughout the trial- once before the radiotherapy starts and twice when the radiotherapy has finished (week 5 and week 9). This wouldn’t involve a separate trip to the hospital since it would tie in with routine visits which are part of the SYSTEMS-2 trial. These samples would be 25 millilitres (five teaspoonfuls) of blood each, which is a perfectly safe amount to take. All the tubes containing the blood samples will be anonymised. This part of SYSTEMS-2 is completely optional and if you do not wish to give extra blood samples then it will not affect your ability to participate in the trial or any aspect of your overall care.
We are also asking for patients to consider giving consent for the research team to collect any leftover tumour tissue that was removed at the time of the original operation or biopsy and was not needed to make the diagnosis or decide on treatment. We are not asking for any new biopsies to be taken and there are no additional hospital visits. The reason we want to study the tumour tissue is because we know that while radiotherapy can be helpful for symptoms in mesothelioma, it doesn’t often cause the cancer to shrink down. If we can understand more about why mesothelioma is so resistant to the shrinking effects of radiotherapy, then we may be able to find a way to make this cancer more radiation-sensitive and may change the way that doctors treat mesothelioma in the future. This part of SYSTEMS-2 is also completely optional and if you do not wish to give permission for your tissue to be used then it does not affect your ability to participate in the trial or any aspect of your overall care.