Cancer Clinical Trials Cancer Clinical Trials

Cancer Clinical Trials

NRS Cancer Research Network – North & East

Information on clinical trials available in the North of Scotland and links to further information for patients and professionals.

About Cancer Clinical Trials

Clinical trials for cancer have been shaping the landscape of testing and treatments available for cancer for decades.  For more information about clinical trials please click here or visit Cancer Research UK which also has a search function specifically for cancer trials happening in the UK.

About Cancer Research Network 

The Scottish Cancer Research Network - North (SCRN-N) was established in 2003 and is part of the national cancer research network in Scotland.  In 2012 the East became a separate node of the network.  Then in 2015 the SCRN became the NRS Cancer Research Network under the umbrella of NHS Research Scotland. 

The NRS Cancer Research Network - North covers NHS Grampian, NHS Highland, NHS Orkney, NHS Shetland and NHS Western Isles. Currently Dr Leslie Samuel (Consultant Clinical Oncologist, NHS Grampian) is the Clinical Lead for the network and Dr Kirsty Shearer is the Network Manager. 

The NRS Cancer Research Network - East covers NHS Tayside and is led by Prof. Ghulam Nabi (Consultant Urological Surgeon, NHS Tayside).  Dr Kirsty Shearer is the Network Manager for the East node.

Within the network, there are a many highly trained medical professionals and administrators who work together to deliver a wide variety of services including medical, nursing, radiography, bio-chemistry, pharmacy, data management and administration for Oncology, Haematology and Children's Oncology.


The NRS Cancer Research Network’s main objective is to increase the numbers of patients participating in cancer clinical trials and promote equity of access for all cancer patients across Scotland.  The portfolio of clinical trials across Scotland supports recruitment to a range of trials for different tumour types including rare cancers.

Further information on the NRS Cancer Research Network can be found here

Information for patients

The NHS Choices website has some useful information on the use of Clinical Trials. Further information on available cancer Clinical Trials in the UK is available from the UK Clinical Trials Gateway (UKCTG) website this includes a search function to find out what trials are available across the UK. Please speak to your cancer professional about getting involved in cancer clinical trials.

Some results from previous trials in the North of Scotland are available below:

TACT (Breast cancer)

The TACT trial was investigating whether giving docetaxel after standard chemotherapy improved survival for women with early breast cancer that had undergone surgery.  It was shown that docetaxel did not have a benefit to these women.  In the North of Scotland recruitment for TACT took place in Aberdeen and Inverness. Further information can be found here.

SCOPE-1 (Oesophageal cancer)

SCOPE 1 recruited patients in the hospitals in Aberdeen and Inverness as well as other hospitals around the UK to investigate whether the addition of the drug cetuximab to patients with oesophageal cancer who were receiving chemoradiation was beneficial.  The trial showed there was no benefit to adding cetuximab to treatment.  More detailed information on the results is available here.  

COG (Oesophageal cancer)

The COG trial assessed the use of gefitinib for treating the progression of oesophageal cancer after patients had received chemotherapy.  Gefitinib was compared to a placebo in this trial.  Results showed that gefitinib did increase survival time and reduced symptoms.  The drug may also have added benefits for people who have extra copies of the EGFR gene.  This trial recruited in Aberdeen and Inverness.  Further information is available here.

ACT II (Anal cancer)

ACT II was a trial of chemoradiation and maintenance therapy for patients with anal cancer.  Results showed that there was no difference between treating patients with 5FU and cisplatin or 5FU and mitomycin.  The recommendation was to continue using 5FU and mitomycin as treatment.  ACT II was open to recruitment in Aberdeen and Dundee.  A summary of these results can be found here.

De-ESCALATE (Head & Neck cancer – oropharyngeal)

The De-ESCALATE trial looked to determine if there were differences between cetuximab and standard care treatment of cisplatin in HPV positive oropharyngeal cancer.  ARI were a recruiting centre for this study.  De-ESCALATE published in Lancet showing that the comparison of cetuximab against the standard cisplatin regime had no benefits by reducing toxicity and actually had significant detrimental effects for controlling the tumour.  Therefore cisplatin and RT should be used as standard of care for HPV-positive low-risk patients who can tolerate cisplatin.  More information on the De-ESCALATE results can be found here.  

STAMPEDE (Prostate cancer)

The STAMPEDE trial has published interim results on, celecoxib has no survival benefit when added to hormone therapy to men with localised prostate cancer but may be beneficial when prostate cancer has spread to other parts of the body; adding docetaxel to standard hormone therapy improves the survival of men with prostate cancer; radiotherapy alongside standard treatment improves survival for men with advanced prostate cancer; abiraterone in hormone sensitive prostate cancer. The cancer research team at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness have been consistently high recruiters to the STAMPEDE study, which continues to recruit men with prostate cancer. Click here for more information on the STAMPEDE results.

QUARTZ (Lung cancer)

The cancer research team at Raigmore and ARI were involved in the QUARTZ trial which showed no benefit to addition of whole brain radiotherapy to steroids for lung cancer patients so saving the patients going through unnecessary treatment and saving health service resources.  For more information about this results visit CRUK.

General information on Cancer Clinical Trials is available from organisations listed below and further information sources can be found on the network website.

Macmillan Cancer Support - Cancer Clinical Trials
Maggies Centres - How We Can Help
Cancer Research UK
NHS Choices - Clinical Trials
Clic Sargent
NHS Highland Cancer Services
UCAN - Urological Cancers
Independent Cancer Patients Voice

Information for healthcare professionals

NHS Research and Development departments in NHS Grampian, NHS Highland and NHS Tayside all host a range of training courses and events including GCP training for staff. Please visit their websites for further information.

Information on national events can be found here.

Standard Operating Procedures covering the governance of clinical trials in NHS Grampian are available here, for NHS Tayside they are available here and can be accessed locally in NHS Highland by contacting RD&I. An archive of previous SCRN-N SOPs is also available here.

General information on Cancer Clinical Trials is available from organisations listed below and further information sources can be found on the network website.

Cancer Quality Performance Indicators
NHS Chief Scientist Office
EDGE - Research Management System
Information Services Division - Scotland
IRAS - Integrated Research Application System
National Cancer Research Institute
NCRI Clinical Studies Group
NCRI - Portfolio Maps
NHS Grampian - Research & Development Department
NHS Highland - Research & Development Department
NHS Research Scotland
Scottish Health Innovations Limited
UK Clinical Research Collaboration

Contact NRS Cancer Research Network – North & East

The North & East team is based at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI).  Please contact the team using the details below should you have any questions about the network, cancer clinical trials or research.  

Research Network Manager 
Email Dr Kirsty Shearer
(work days Mon - Thurs)

Trials Administrator
Email Claire Foster
(Work days Mon-Fri until 14:30)


NRS Cancer Research, Network Office, Research Corridor, Ward 310, Orange Zone, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Foresterhill, Aberdeen, AB25 2ZN.