Doctors launch £1.5m trial to find out if fish oil can improve cancer survival

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Patients with bowel cancer in Yorkshire will be given a fish oil supplement in a £1.5 million trial to find out if it can prevent the illness recurring.

Some 450 people from around the region undergoing surgery in Leeds for the illness that has spread to the liver will take part in the study involving the omega-3 fatty acid component of fish oil.

The research, funded by the charity Yorkshire Cancer Research, is announced today as part of International Clinical Trials Day. Experts hope to discover if the highly purified form of a natural fish oil component called EPA improves survival.

Laboratory tests have shown some some survival benefit using the approach known as “chemoprevention” to reduce disease development or recurrence.

Gastroenterologist Prof Mark Hull, of St James’s Hospital in Leeds, who will lead the work, said: “Results from this trial should answer the question about whether EPA, which is a safe, natural product, is beneficial to advanced bowel cancer patients and should lead to rapid introduction into the clinic.”

Charles Rowett, chief executive officer at the charity, said: “This is a highly significant development in our new strategy to drive major improvements in cancer outcomes in Yorkshire.”

*Research staff at Scarborough Hospital have become the first in the world to recruit a patient for a study to improve treatments for breast cancer. The work will look at treatment patterns and outcomes in inoperable, locally advanced or secondary breast cancers.