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Professor Sarah Darby

Second supervisor

Dr Geoff Higgins

Summary of the Project


Recent laboratory research has suggested that several GP prescribed medications may significantly increase the efficacy of radiotherapy treatment. These medications are currently used for non-cancer purposes, such as the primary prevention of cardiac disease.

Since some of these medications are widely used and have been available for many years, we anticipate that large numbers of patients will have previously been taking these medications whilst receiving radiotherapy treatment. Importantly, there are no reports in the literature suggesting that these medications exacerbate the side effects typically associated with radiotherapy treatment.

In order to strengthen the clinical rationale for combining these drugs with radiotherapy, we plan to examine whether the routine use of these medications is associated with a) a reduced incidence of developing cancer b) adverse events when combined with radiotherapy, c) improved clinical outcomes when combined with radiotherapy.

We plan to do this by retrospectively analysing the outcomes of patients who have previously received these medications with concurrent radiotherapy treatment.

Research experience, research methods and skills training

The student will mine UK databases to extract details on the outcomes of groups of patients taking these medications. The Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) contains anonymised data on over 13 million primary care records that can be linked to secondary care databases such as the UK Cancer Registry.

International databases will also be sought to validate findings obtained from the UK databases.

Appropriate statistical and epidemiological methodology training will be provided.

Prospective candidates

This project will suit a student interested in either pharmacoepidemiology or cancer epidemiology.