Nurse-led clinics in Wales are helping in a big way to expedite clinical trials of new cancer drugs.
The nurse-led clinics at Velindre Hospital, Cardiff, seem to have helped to revolutionise the care of patients with urological cancers.
Lynette Lane, an oncology research sister with the Wales Cancer Trials Network, the moving spirit behind the new clinics, was named the winner of the Excellence in Oncology Nursing at the Pfizer Excellence in Oncology Awards 2008.
She says: "We thought it would be better to make the whole system more user-friendly so we decided to set up these nurse-led clinics which would run in parallel with the consultant clinics.
"We can now manage our time more efficiently and the patients'."
The nurse-led clinics - there are now three every week - have helped boost the number of patients in clinical trials.
Last year 153 of the 185 patients approached to join trials were accepted. There are currently 15 open trials for patients with urological cancer and another 15 closed to recruitment but still following patients up.
"The patients are able to come to see me, or one of my team and if there is a problem we can easily get the doctors involved.
"Patients are no longer waiting as long in the waiting rooms to be seen. Previously the research nurses would have to wait around for the patients to be seen in the consultant clinics but now we have our own lists, we are in control and it makes everything more efficient."
It is hoped the research in nurse-led clinics for patients in trials will be extended to other forms of cancer, and the model could even be adopted across the NHS. Lyn added: "There are specialist nurse-led clinics for diabetes and other chronic conditions, but nothing like this for research - as far as I'm aware there is nothing else like this in Wales or the UK."
Dr Jim Barber, a consultant clinical oncologist at Velindre Hospital, who supported the clinics, said: "This role has enabled a major expansion of capacity for clinical trials activity, whereby the majority of patients who are eligible for clinical trials may be screened.
"Due mainly to the effects of Lyn and her staff, approximately 20% of all urology patients are entered into clinical trials - an impressive achievement, well above the national target of 10%.
"In addition, the extra time taken to discuss the details of the clinical trials has improved the proportion of patients screened for trials who enter them, with an impressive acceptance rate of around 60%.
"Lyn has also played a major role in training clinical trials nursing staff and several of her trainees have gone one to run successful clinical trials practices of their own.
"It has, in my opinion, greatly improved the quality of care for patients in clinical trials."
Brothers and former cafe and restaurant owners Renato and Aldo Bacchetta, who both have cancer, have experienced the benefits of Lyn's clinics, reports Madeleine Brindley of Western Mail.
Aldo, 71, a grandfather to four, who lives in Porth, has kidney cancer, which has spread into the veins leading to his heart. He has been taking the drug Sutent as part of a clinical trial for two and a half years - the drug is one of four kidney cancer treatments that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has recently said should not be available on the NHS.
Although he still has cancer, the drug is slowing its progress.
"For me it is a miracle drug, a life-saving drug and I feel very fortunate to be on it, even though it's not an overall cure. It was difficult in the beginning because my recovery from surgery was slow, but once I got used to it, I've found I'm coping very well," Aldo said.
"Thanks to the specialist treatment I've been having with Lyn on a one-to-one basis, it had been fantastic.
"It's always a pleasure to come to the hospital."
Renato, 76, who lives in Talbot Green and has seven grandchildren, has three-monthly appointments at Velindre for a prostate cancer injection, as part of the UK-wide "Stampede" trial, which tests the efficacy of three types of drugs - docetaxel (chemotherapy), zoledronic acid (bisphosphonate) and celecoxib, a cox-2-inhibitor, and are given in various combinations to patients starting long-term hormone therapy.
After being diagnosed with the cancer at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, Llantrisant, he was asked whether he was interested in taking part in the trial.
Renato, who had 37 sessions of radiotherapy, said: "I made the decision to come down and see Lyn who told me what the trial was.
"We are on a very friendly basis and Lyn's team is very accessible - they are on the end of a phone if something happens.
"It is very reassuring."