Former Manchester United scout given cancer all-clear after medical trial success

Tom Critchley and Dr Clare Arthur joined Gamal Fahnbulleh in the studio

A former Manchester United football scout has been spared invasive surgery and given the all-clear thanks to a groundbreaking cancer trial.

Tom Critchley who carved out a career spotting sports stars and was a corporal in the Royal Engineers, was diagnosed with early stage rectal cancer last April.

The 76-year-old from Astley near Leigh, was referred to the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester and was immediately offered the chance to join the Aphrodite trial.

This trial is investigating whether a higher dose of radiotherapy increases the chance that rectal cancer – a type of bowel cancer – can be treated without resorting to painful surgery.

The Christie Hospital in Manchester Credit: ITV News

Tom, a grandfather of three, underwent 28 sessions of radiotherapy on the trial and took a chemotherapy tablet twice a day. By February this year, the club and bar singer was given the all-clear. His scans continue to show no signs of cancer.

Tom said he went to his doctor straight away when he developed bowel cancer symptoms. In his case, it was blood on the toilet paper.

He said: "It was a massive shock to be diagnosed with cancer as I’ve always been fit and healthy, but I knew I wanted to get treatment right away."

Tom lost his wife Eileen to cancer when she was 54. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died just five weeks later.

He said: "People don’t go on clinical trials because they are frightened of not getting treatment and they think a trial won’t help them.

"But I thought the opposite. I thought the trial could help me but it will also help somebody else.

"Even if it doesn’t work for me, it doesn’t mean it won’t work for somebody else. As it happens, the treatment has worked amazingly. There are no signs of cancer – it’s gone completely."

Tom is a grandfather of three Credit: PA Images

The grandfather, who spent 20 years with Manchester United and eight with Bolton Wanderers, has two children, Neil and Julie, and grandchildren ranging from 12 to 18 years old.

He said: "I would say to people don’t be frightened of taking a chance on a clinical trial because the answer to your problem could be within that trial.

"Do it and hope you get the result that I have."

Dr Claire Arthur, a consultant oncologist at the Christie, said: "A standard dose of radiotherapy given over five-and-a-half weeks can lead to cancer disappearing in about a third of patients diagnosed with a small, early rectal cancer.

"The aim of the trial is to discover if a higher dose of radiotherapy given over the same length of time results in a better response, avoids surgery and sometimes a stoma bag, and improves quality of life for the patient.

"Modern radiotherapy techniques enable a patient to be given a higher dose to the tumour while reducing the amount the normal tissue receives, therefore reducing the initial and long-term side effects.

"Tom responded well to the radiotherapy and has no significant long-term side effects.

"He’s now been clear of cancer for over eight months which is great news. Tom will continue to be closely monitored."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...