Yorkshire Cancer Research has announced £8.3 million in funding for research that will improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in the region.
The funding has been confirmed following a delay due to the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, which led to a pause in research so that clinical and academic health professionals could focus on tackling Covid-19.
The independent charity has now given the green light to six new studies involving more than 9,000 people. The research will involve both rising stars in Yorkshire and some of the UK’s leading cancer experts.
Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “Delays in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer during the coronavirus pandemic mean it’s vital that we continue to press forward with our goal to address regional cancer priorities and create a beacon of patient-centred cancer research in Yorkshire.
“Our new research programmes will help prevent cancer, ensure people get the earliest possible diagnosis, and find better treatments to improve survival. We are especially grateful for the continued support of people across Yorkshire, who have helped make this research possible.”
The following research programmes have received funding:
The use of chemotherapy before surgery in patients with bowel cancer
A £3.4 million trial will investigate the use of chemotherapy before surgery in patients with bowel cancer. Patients are usually given chemotherapy after surgery in standard care. A previous international trial has shown that giving chemotherapy before an operation can lead to better surgery, reduce complications and improve survival rates.
Led by Dr Jenny Seligmann, Consultant Medical Oncologist at the University of Leeds, and Dion Morton, Professor of Surgery at the University of Birmingham, the new programme will test whether further benefits can be made by giving fit patients more intensive chemotherapy. It will also test different ways of treating older and frail patients with chemotherapy ahead of surgery. The trial has been developed through the University of Leeds Clinical Trials Research Unit and supported by the University of Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit.
Reducing the need for extensive surgery for men with early stage prostate cancer
A £1.6 million clinical trial will test whether an existing medication that slows prostate growth can reduce the need for extensive surgery or radiotherapy in men with early stage prostate cancer. Led by James Catto, Professor of Urology at the University of Sheffield, and Peter Sasieni, Professor of Cancer Prevention at King’s College London, the six-year trial will involve 550 men in Yorkshire.
Urine self-testing kits to diagnose people at high risk of developing bladder cancer
A second trial led by Professors Catto and Sasieni will assess and compare the use of urine self-testing kits and community early detection clinics in diagnosing people at high risk of developing bladder cancer. The £1.5 million trial, involving 6000 people, will assess the possibility of an early detection programme for bladder cancer in Yorkshire, where survival rates are lower than the national average¹.
Increasing the effectiveness of radiotherapy for people with some types of bowel cancer
A £450 000 study will test whether radiotherapy can be made more effective for people with some types of advanced bowel cancer. Led by Aaron Quyn, Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery at the University of Leeds, and developed through the University of Leeds Clinical Trials Research Unit, the research will find out if new technology can be used to increase the damage done to cancer cells by radiotherapy and reduce the need for extensive surgery, which can have significant side effects. If successful, a larger scale study could follow.
Using vaping starter kits to help people with mental illness quit smoking
A £1 million trial will aim to establish whether an offer of vaping products can help people with mental illness quit smoking. Elena Ratschen, Associate Professor in Health Sciences at the University of York, and Lion Shahab, Professor in Health Psychology at University College London, will work with mental health trusts to test whether integrating the offer of a vaping starter kit to patients who smoke helps increase the number who quit successfully. The proportion of people with mental illness who smoke is extremely high when compared with the general population².
Improving pain management for patients in Yorkshire
Dr Matthew Mulvey, Senior Research Fellow in Palliative Care at the University of Leeds, will investigate whether an existing pain assessment tool can be successfully introduced into oncology outpatient services across Yorkshire. The £350 000 study could lead to improved pain management for patients in the region. The trial will be supported by the Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research.
Dr Scott added: “Our aim is that at least 2000 more people survive cancer in Yorkshire every year, and these new trials and research programmes will bring us closer to that goal. By developing the next generation of cancer researchers in Yorkshire and tapping into world-leading expertise from around the UK, we will help more people in our region live long and healthy lives.”
2. Public Health England (2020). Local Tobacco Control Profiles. Available from: https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/tobacco-control