EARL Trial Update
EARL Trial Update
We caught up with Dr. Lukas Kalinke who is leading the Electrocautery Ablation for the pRevention of Lung Cancer (EARL) Trial to hear how work on the trial has progressed over the past eighteen months. The trial investigates whether squamous cell lung cancer (SQCC) can be prevented with early treatment of pre-cancerous lesions.
Dr. Kalinke told us that unfortunately, the pandemic occurred just after UCLH opened its doors to treating airway pre-cancerous lesions through the EARL trial. COVID related trials understandably took precedence. This meant that several patients with pre-cancerous lesions who were eligible for the trial were not able to enter and therefore, unfortunately some of these patients’ disease has since progressed to cancer. Once Dr. Kalinke and his team were given the green light to open again they successfully treated their first patient who has since had a complete response to the electrocautery treatment. Two other patients have also entered the trial – one has been treated and the other is in the surveillance arm (non-treatment) of the trial.
Dr. Kalinke and his colleagues have opened trial sites at Papworth hospital (led by Dr Robert Rintoul); the Royal Brompton, (led by Professor Palav Shah), Glasgow (led by Dr Joris Van Der Horst) and Nottingham (led Dr Emma O’Dowd). He anticipates other pending trial sites such as Oxford (led by Dr Alistair Moore) and Rouen (led by Professor Thiberville) to follow suit in the coming months.
Dr. Kalinke told us that a problem for many trials during Covid-19 has been patient recruitment. His team have now sent out over 60 sputum pots to patients who received curative treatment to head and neck cancer at UCLH as they recognise that such patients are at risk of having precancerous lesions in their airway. They are able to detect abnormal cells that slough off the airway in patient’s sputum, and they are currently awaiting the results of the last of these pots. They have already received several sputum pots back that have been analysed by their pathologists that have shown atypical sputum and Dr. Kalinke and his team will be inviting those patients to have a bronchoscopy to screen for pre-cancerous lesions using their autofluorescence camera.