What we fund

Each year we are funding £10 million of vital cancer research and it's all for the benefit of the people of Yorkshire.

Take a look at what we fund below. We've split them up into the seven areas we specialise in.

Lowering cancer risk

Dr Rachael Murray
University of Nottingham

Lung cancer rates are higher in Yorkshire than in the rest of the UK. This is due to higher rates of smoking.

Smoking rates in Leeds are above the national average. Deaths from lung cancer can be reduced using regular lung scans (screening) and by helping people stop smoking. As well as detecting cancers, scans can show evidence of damage to lungs (emphysema) and heart arteries (calcification).

This study will test whether smokers can be encouraged to quit by receiving pictures of their scans showing possible lung and heart damage, along with information about how stopping smoking reduces their risk of cancer and heart attack. The service will be delivered as part of the charity’s lung screening trial.

A screening trial, funded by an additional £5.2m investment, will be carried out in mobile vans visiting communities in Leeds.



Dr Matthew Callister
St James’s University Hospital
2017- 2024

Our detailed analysis of the Yorkshire cancer landscape identified a significant unmet need for lung cancer patients. More than half of lung cancer patients in Yorkshire are diagnosed when their cancer is very advanced, which means treatment options are limited and the chances of survival are extremely low. Screening those at high risk of developing lung cancer before they experience symptoms has been shown to reduce mortality rates by up to 20% in a US study. We are funding the UK’s largest lung cancer screening trial, to be carried out in partnership with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. Screening will be carried out in mobile vans, which will travel to communities in the Leeds area. The results could be used to plan a national programme.


Dr Lesley McGregor
Dr Christian Von Wagner  
University College London
2017- 2019

Bowel scope screening is a new, one-off test carried out by specially trained doctors or nurses at NHS bowel cancer screening centres. A thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end is used to look at a section of the large bowel. It can find and remove small pre-cancerous growths called polyps from the bowel and identify early cancers. 

Bowel scope screening is being gradually rolled out across Yorkshire, and will eventually be made available to all men and women aged 55. 

Dr Lesley McGregor and Dr Christian von Wagner, based at University College London, will aim to increase participation in Hull by developing a leaflet about bowel scope screening and by comparing different types of GP communication for people who fail to attend their appointment.


Ian Wallace
NHS Bradford City and Bradford Districts CCGs
2018- 2019

Our Yorkshire wide analysis shows that cancer survival rates are poorer for those in deprived areas.  Failure to take part in screening is one of the reasons. NHS Bradford City CCG has the lowest percentage uptake of bowel screening in England at 34%. The areas with the poorest screening rates are also the areas of highest deprivation with the most diverse ethnic populations. By improving the uptake of regular screening, more bowel cancers will be detected at an earlier stage, improving survival rates. 

This trial will test whether a follow-up phone call, in the right language, can improve participation in bowel cancer screening in the Bradford and Airedale area. The team will work with local GP practices to deliver this work. People who have failed to complete the test will receive a phone call from trained staff, who will deliver a culturally appropriate message in a language that the patient understands.



Professor Una Macleod
Hull York Medical School
University of Hull
2017- 2020

Hull has a high number of current and ex-smokers. As a result lung cancer is a major health issue. We are funding a community health campaign in Hull, where there are an estimated 54,510 smokers. The campaign will raise awareness of symptoms and encourage smokers and ex-smokers to attend lung health checks. The team is also working with GP practices in the area to make it easier for people to get appointments and referrals for chest x-rays if they experience potential lung cancer symptoms.  

Dr Katherine Brain 
Institute of Primary Care
Cardiff University
2017- 2020

Cancer rates tend to be worse in areas of high deprivation, of which there are many in Yorkshire. The reasons for poorer rates include higher levels of unhealthy behaviours, such as smoking and drinking alcohol, poor knowledge and awareness of symptoms, and barriers in access to healthcare. These factors often lead to diagnosis through emergency routes, such as A&E or emergency GP referral. Patients diagnosed with cancer through an emergency route are more likely to be diagnosed at a late stage, which can mean treatment options are limited and chances of survival are lower.

We have funded a health check project aimed at improving the early diagnosis of cancer in disadvantaged communities across Yorkshire. The research team will test a new online health questionnaire carried out by trained advisors. This will determine whether further medical advice would be of benefit. The project could lead to improvements in cancer awareness in deprived communities and help more people in Yorkshire avoid, cope with and survive the disease.

Dr Christina Dobson 
Institute of Health and Society
Newcastle University
2019 - 2020

People living in rural areas are more likely to get colorectal cancer and less likely to survive it, but we don’t know why. This study will explore how people living in rural Yorkshire (a region that has substantially more cancer cases diagnosed than the average in England) experience and respond to bowel cancer symptoms. Our researcher will interview patients living in rural areas of North Yorkshire to understand their experiences of bowel cancer symptoms and their responses to them. They will then discuss their findings with local residents, community organisations and representatives from the Clinical Commissioning Groups, public health and primary care practices during community-based meetings, to identify potential solutions to accessing healthcare.


Diagnosis and treatment

Professor Corinne Faivre-Finn  
University of Manchester
Dr Kevin Franks
University of Leeds
2017- 2020

Radiotherapy to the chest is essential for the treatment of many cancers, but it can damage the heart causing long-term side effects. Reducing such damage could improve one-year survival rates for lung cancer by around 10%. 

Researchers at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust have joined forces with The University of Manchester and specialist cancer centre The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester to improve radiotherapy treatment for patients with this disease. 

The study will determine which areas of the heart are most susceptible to damage during radiotherapy so that these areas can be avoided or protected. The findings could be applied in other cancers where radiotherapy is common such as breast cancer. More information for patients can be found here.

Dr Ane Appelt
Dr Simon Gollins
Institute of Cancer and Pathology
University of Leeds
2018 - 2023

Some patients with rectal cancer are unable to have the cancer removed by surgery. They may suffer from symptoms as their cancer grows, including pain, diarrhoea and the need for a stoma (bowel bag). For these patients, radiotherapy combined with chemotherapy is used. A standard dose of radiotherapy given over 5-6 weeks can lead to the cancer disappearing in about one-third of patients. We want to find out if a higher radiotherapy dose given over the same time will give greater benefit to patients with acceptable side effects. This could lead to better treatment and improved quality of life.

Professor Mark Hull
Leeds Institute of Biomedical & Clinical Sciences
St James’s University Hospital
2015 - 2021

Many patients who undergo surgery to remove bowel cancer that has spread to their liver have a recurrence. We are funding a major phase III clinical trial to find out if taking an omega-3 fatty acid component of fish oil can prevent bowel cancer from returning after surgery. Using medicines to prevent cancer, a strategy called ‘chemoprevention’ is a rapidly emerging way of reducing disease development or recurrence. Nutritional supplements like omega-3 or well-known drugs like aspirin provide a promising area of research - because they are safe to use with few side effects - that is already well established in clinical practice and likely to be highly cost-effective. 

450 cancer patients undergoing surgery for bowel cancer that has spread to the liver will be given a highly purified form of a naturally-occurring fish oil component called EPA, or a placebo, to see if long-term treatment improves survival. 

15% of all the liver surgery for bowel cancer in the UK is performed in Yorkshire, and the trial will involve patients from across the county. If successful, it could lead to an immediate use of EPA therapy.
Professor Philip Quirke
Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology
University of Leeds
2015 - 2022

The outcomes of having bowel cancer in Yorkshire varies widely between hospitals and lag behind the best UK and European institutions. Our researchers are collecting data about the quality of bowel cancer treatments and outcomes in hospitals across Yorkshire. By examining this data, they will identify areas that require improvement and recruit international experts in cancer treatment to educate health care providers. This aims to significantly improve the quality of bowel cancer care across the region.


Life with and after cancer

Dr Samuel Smith
Dr Christopher Graham  
Leeds Institute of Health Sciences
University of Leeds
2018 - 2021

Women who take medication for several years beyond an initial breast cancer diagnosis are not receiving the right type of support to maintain the correct dose. This means a significant proportion of women do not take their medication as required and this can, in some cases, allow cancer to return. Our researchers will design and test a programme of therapy sessions. These will seek to establish whether psychological intervention can help increase the number of women taking medication to stop cancer from coming back.

Professor John Saxton 
Department of Sport, Exercise & Rehabilitation
Northumbria University
Dr Caroline Wilson
Sheffield Teaching Hospital

2018 - 2020

Many women who recover from breast cancer are overweight. This increases the chance of cancer returning. This is especially true for women recovering from the most common type of breast cancer which grows in the presence of oestrogen. This is because the extra body weight (mainly body fat) leads to higher levels of oestrogen and harmful substances in the blood. 

There is a lack of support for overweight women to lose weight after breast cancer. We will work with breast cancer patients to design a practical way to provide tailored lifestyle support to help them to lose weight. A support programme, including counselling sessions, skills workshops and phone calls, will be designed with patient representatives. 

Professor Galina Velikova
Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology
University of Leeds
2016 - 2020

As cancer survival rates improve, more people are living with and after cancer. Although many may be cured or in remission, they need follow up appointments to detect recurrence and monitor after-effects of treatment. Those with advanced cancer need close monitoring. 

This work will allow patients to report symptoms and adverse effects of treatment online where they can also receive appropriate advice. By extending use of this system across Yorkshire the team aim to improve patient care, experiences and safety, especially in early phase clinical trials.

Professor Galina Velikova
Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology
University of Leeds
2016 - 2019

There are two primary treatment options for early-stage lung cancer: surgery to remove the cancer or radiotherapy to try to kill the cancer cells. 

Professor Velikova’s team is examining how patients make the decision between these two treatment options. They will also help patients report any symptoms or problems arising after their treatment, and determine how they feel about the treatment decision process and the choices they made. This information can then be used to help other patients make an informed decision about their treatment.

Professor Georgina Jones
School of Social Sciences
Leeds Beckett University
2015 - 2020

Treatment for cancer often results in loss of fertility for female patients. Research shows that women diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire do not feel well supported in making decisions relating to their fertility and many miss out on fertility care completely. Our researchers have developed new ways to support women and help them to make an informed decision. By doing so the researchers hope to reduce patient stress and ensure they receive the services, information and care they need.


Palliative and end-of-life care

Professor Michael Bennett  
Academic Unit of Palliative Care
Leeds Institute of Health Sciences
University of Leeds
2018 - 2022

Palliative care is significantly underfunded in the UK, yet the number of patients requiring this important type of care is growing. Our previous research shows that people in Yorkshire access palliative care only in the last few weeks of life, yet earlier access improves symptom control and pain management. 

This four-year programme of research will improve the quality of palliative care in the region. Our researchers will investigate how and when patients access palliative care, introduce new measures to improve how symptoms are formally assessed and monitored and equip clinical teams with training and support to help them address these symptoms.

Professor Miriam Johnson
Hull York Medical School
University of Hull
2016 - 2019

People with cancer need good access to palliative care to relieve distressing symptoms; some get better access than others. We have adapted a form to help general practice doctors and nurses identify and manage the palliative care needs and concerns of patients and family carers.
We will conduct a trial of 62 practices. Half will be chosen randomly to use the form. We will look at the effect on patients’ and carers’ concerns and healthcare costs compared with practices providing usual care. We will assess training needs and explore how to embed the use of the form in routine clinical care.


Research partnerships

Growing the next generation of cancer researchers and research-active clinicians is key to delivering major cancer improvements for Yorkshire. When patients are treated in hospitals where research regularly takes place their risk of dying is lower. We are proud to support a major programme across Yorkshire to develop and support more than 30 academic research partners.


In partnership with the University of Leeds and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Yorkshire Cancer Research is investing £5m in a five-year programme of research to address cancer inequalities in the region Together we are focusing on four main areas:

• identifying inequalities and key priorities by analysing Yorkshire cancer data and patient experiences;
• providing better support for patients and the choices they make following diagnosis;
• improving care, from active disease management to disease monitoring, advanced disease management and end of life care;
• and developing new therapies through the Yorkshire Cancer Research Centre for Early Phase Clinical Trials.

Dr Ane Appelt
Leeds Cancer Centre
St James’s University Hospital
2016 - 2021

Radiotherapy plays a central role in treating cancer, and the majority of cancer patients receive radiation treatment at one or more points during the course of their disease. The last decade has seen improvement which means this can be delivered with more accuracy and precision than ever before. 

Increasingly, radiotherapy research focuses on the reduction of the side effects, using the technology.
However, to take full advantage of the technical developments in radiotherapy we need a very good understanding of the factors which influence the results of treatment, especially when it comes to the risk of side effects. We need to understand how radiation doses impact healthy organs and how patient physiology impacts the likelihood of experiencing treatment toxicity. This will enable the tailoring radiotherapy treatment.
Much research has been done on this already, but the majority of the effort has been focused on toxicity assessed by the treating physician rather than the patient. Increased understanding of this might enable us to directly include patient preferences in treatment. This could open new venues for shared decision-making in cancer treatment.

Dr Louise Murray
Institute of Cancer and Pathology
St James’s University Hospital
2016 - 2021

This work aims to improve cure rates and reduce long-term side effects of radiotherapy treatment. 
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an advanced method of imaging tumours. It can provide information about tumour position, as well as tumour metabolism, growth and blood supply. This funding will help integrate MRI further into radiotherapy for brain and pelvic tumours. It will be used to better define those areas for radiotherapy and those to be avoided, to calculate radiotherapy doses, and, potentially, to adapt radiotherapy in response to changes in the tumour during treatment. 

A further area for investigation is that of re-irradiation, where a region of the body that has previously received radiotherapy, is treated with a second course. In the past, this has been avoided because of concerns about long-term side effects. Very accurate tumour targeting, assisted by modern imaging and radiotherapy technologies, however, has the potential to safe re-irradiation. 

In addition, this project aims to investigate radiotherapy to the pancreas where pancreatic cancer has spread beyond the pancreas. 
All of these trials will assess the impact of the new technology and treatment, its effect on tumour growth side effects and patient quality of life. 

Dr Lucy Ziegler
Leeds Institute of Health Sciences
University of Leeds
2016 - 2021

This research aims to help patients with advanced cancer receive palliative care at the right time. Time4PallCare was the first project in this programme of work that aimed to establish how the timing and extent of palliative care influence the quality of care. A second project; Supporting Timely Engagement with Palliative Care – Understanding patients (STEP-UP) began in July 2016. It aims to improve our understanding of why patients don’t receive the care they need. Further projects will then focus on the development and testing of new methods of supporting timely referral for palliative care.    

Dr Matthew Mulvey
Leeds Institute of Health Sciences
University of Leeds
2017 - 2022

Pain is the symptom most feared by cancer patients and their loved ones. Over half of all cancer patients will experience pain at some point. For those with advanced cancer pain, this can often be severe and extremely distressing. If pain is regularly assessed by a healthcare professional, they can get the right medications sooner. However, in busy hospitals and GP clinics, regular pain assessments are not always done. 

This research programme will investigate the best ways to support doctors and nurses to assess cancer pain regularly. The first stage will be to understand why cancer pain is not routinely assessed and monitored by doctors and nurses. Patients, carers and healthcare professionals will be invited to talk about how cancer pain is managed now and what could be done better in future. 

The second stage will investigate how the system can be improved by linking patient records across Cancer Hospitals and General Practice and identifying which services cancer patients are using and where routine pain assessment could be added. 

In the third stage methods of cancer pain assessment will be developed and tested. The aim is to help healthcare professionals identify cancer pain sooner to improve the quality of life for cancer patients.

Dr Rebecca Beeken
Leeds Institute of Health Sciences
University of Leeds
2017 - 2022

More than 40% of all cancers diagnosed in the UK are attributable to lifestyle and environmental factors. These factors include smoking, poor diet quality, overweight and obesity, high alcohol intake and low levels of physical activity. There is also a growing body of evidence linking these behaviours with the worse survival rates after a cancer diagnosis. This work will focus on the development and evaluation of change patient behaviour to improve health, reduce the risk of cancer and support successful recovery from cancer. 

Dr Samuel Smith
Leeds Institute of Health Sciences
University of Leeds
2017 - 2022

Approximately 5-10% of breast cancer occurs in women with a family history of the disease. Over two-thirds of women with breast cancer are offered the opportunity to take medications, known as hormonal therapies, for five years after their diagnosis to reduce the risk of recurrence. These medications are effective at reducing breast cancer incidence and recurrence, but side effects are common including menopausal symptoms and joint pain. Uptake rates in high-risk women are low (~16%), and there are no other prevention options for the majority of this group. 

This programme of work will:

1) Use a large NHS database to identify how many women do not continue to take their hormonal therapy after they have been diagnosed with breast cancer. 
2) Develop a patient-centred approach to address the reason women don’t continue with their hormonal therapy.
3) Understand how women make decisions about breast cancer prevention
4) Develop patient and healthcare professional decision aids to improve decision-making. 
5) Investigate the role lifestyle can have in breast cancer prevention among high-risk women who do not wish to use hormonal therapy. 

Dr Florien Boele
Patient Reported Outcomes Group
St James’s University Hospital
2016 - 2021

This research aims to explore patients’ and family caregivers’ experiences and disease burden, focusing on groups that may be understudied or particularly vulnerable, for example, teenage and young adult patients, adults with cancer that cannot be cured but can be managed, and patients with a brain tumour. 

Linked with the aims above, the research focuses on outcomes. To be better able to evaluate the outcomes of research studies, patient-reported outcomes play an important role. When using questionnaires to measure the quality of life, for example, it is vital that these measure what is important to patients and caregivers. We also need to know when a change over time is meaningful. 

Furthermore, to contribute to improving quality of life and access to support for patients and caregivers, we will evaluate existing support programmes and aim to adapt and test highly promising programmes. 

These studies can provide valuable leads to improve and tailor supportive care to better meet both patients’ and caregivers’ needs. This could improve their health and quality of life.

Dr Matthew Allsop
Leeds Institute of Health Sciences
University of Leeds
2018 - 2023

Many people have a smartphone, iPads or laptop and use them every day. For many years, the use of technology has been increasing in healthcare, used by both health professionals and patients. In some hospitals, a patient with cancer might be asked, between consultations, to send information to their health professionals using their smartphone or computer about any symptoms or concerns. Some patients and health professionals are keen to use this way to communicate But others are less keen. As a result, there is a lot of variation in the use and interaction of new technology. 

The aim of this research project is to understand what influences the use of new technology for patients with cancer, their caregivers, and their health professionals, potentially leading to improvements in the delivery of cancer care across Yorkshire and improving the quality of life of patients, especially those with advanced cancer.


The charity has joined forces with the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in a groundbreaking collaboration that will combine pioneering scientific and technological developments.
The £4.5m investment will fund the appointment of 10 of the UK’s most promising researchers and cancer specialists, whose expertise will reinforce Sheffield as one of the best centres in the country for patient-focused cancer research.
Their appointments will build on the international reputation of the Weston Park Cancer Clinical Trials Centre and bring together clinicians and researchers across the city to address cancer issues.

Dr Robin Young
Academic Unit of Clinical Oncology
University of Sheffield
2018 - 2023

Lung cancer is the most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer death in Yorkshire, where rates are poorer than the UK average. The aim of this research is to increase access of Yorkshire lung cancer patients to innovative early phase clinical trials. Amongst other projects, a clinical trial will combine two drugs to treat patients with pre-treated advanced lung cancer. The results will be used to develop further larger-scale clinical trials.


The charity is working in partnership with the University of Hull, the Hull York Medical School and Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust to deliver a £4.9m series of five-year research projects that will improve the experience of cancer patients and ensure more people in the city survive the disease.
The initiative will focus on ensuring that patients are diagnosed at the earliest possible stage and have equal access to the very best treatments and supportive care.
The investment will fund the appointment of 11 of the country’s most promising researchers and will help to establish the city as a centre of excellence for cancer research. The programme is expected to attract further national funding to the area.

Dr Cynthia Forbes
University of Hull
2018 – 2023

Regular physical activity has been shown to help improve the body and mind during and after cancer treatment. Regular activity has also been linked to a lower risk of cancer recurring and longer survival.

Despite this, most people with a cancer diagnosis don’t do enough activity to get these benefits. This research will help identify the reasons for low levels of activity. This is necessary for us to learn how best to help people change their physical activity behaviour.

West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance

In partnership with the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance, Yorkshire Cancer Research is investing in a bursary scheme to promote excellence in early diagnosis.

Excellence and Innovation in Practice bursary scheme
2018 - 2019

This initiative aims to speed up cancer diagnoses for patients across West Yorkshire and Harrogate by encouraging excellence and innovation within Endoscopy and Radiology departments.

It will give up to 30 professional Clinical Endoscopists or Reporting Radiographers (either qualified or in training), access to a bursary of up to £5,000. This bursary can be used:

• to support education
• for ongoing professional development
• for initiatives that promote patients’ involvement in care improvements
• to develop informative resources that empower patients to make decisions about their care