‘No trace’ of cancer in patient’s body after experimental treatment

Jim McCallum's cancer did not respond well to treatment - until he joined a new trial.

Glasgow and Edinburgh cancer centres will share £4m to develop new treatments Cancer Research UK

A man has been declared cancer-free after undergoing an experimental treatment.

Jim McCallum, 76, from Paisley, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2017 after going to the doctor and hoping he would be told it was a “harmless lump”.

Mr McCallum’s cancer did not respond well to treatment, but he was able to take part in a trial in 2020.

CAR T-cell therapy at the Glasgow Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) has left “no trace” of the disease in his body.

Mr McCallum told his story as it was announced that the ECMC and a similar centre in Edinburgh were to share around £4m of new funding.

He said: “The day I was told it was cancer shook me to the core. I think I had known, but you always hope they tell you it’s just a harmless lump.

“That was the worst day – being told I had cancer.”

In 2018, Mr McCallum went for chemotherapy, but the cancer did not respond well, and he was told it had spread.

“After that first shock of diagnosis, I tried never to get too high about progress or too low about the lack of progress,” he said.

The retired headteacher was keen to take part in a clinical trial involving cells being taken from his bloodstream, left in a lab to multiply and then injected back into him to attack the lymphoma.

Mr McCallum has been routinely monitored for three years and is free of cancer.

“They can’t find any trace of the cancer now,” he said. “I was just so glad they had a treatment I could try and taking part in a trial also has the potential to help others, it’s all about gathering information.

“Cancer is such an insidious disease, you can never be sure where you are with it, and you do start to wonder how many treatment options are left to you.”

The Glasgow centre is now set to receive about £2.2m to help doctors develop new cancer treatments for adults and children.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh’s ECMC will receive about £1.7m in funding over the next five years.

The money comes from Cancer Research UK and the Scottish Government, with the Little Princess Trust providing funding specifically for children’s cancers.

Dr Iain Foulkes, Cancer Research UK executive director of research and innovation, said: “The adult and paediatric ECMC networks will offer clinical trials for many different types of cancer.

“Researchers will be working to find new treatments and tackle the unique challenges presented by cancers in children and young people.”

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