Yorkshire Cancer Research Invests £1m in South Yorkshire Research Projects

05 March 2019

Cutting-edge lung images will be tested to see if they can help doctors select the best treatment for their patients in a new research project announced today (Tuesday, March 5) by Yorkshire Cancer Research. 

Researchers, led by Professor Matthew Hatton at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Professor Jim Wild and Dr Bilal Tahir at the University of Sheffield, will use the city’s world-leading magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) centre to produce revolutionary pictures of cancer patients’ lungs before they begin treatment.

75% of lung cancer patients have other lung diseases that mean they are at a higher risk of complications following curative surgery 1. Current lung function tests measure lung volume, capacity, rates of air flow and gas exchange. However, the results are less accurate than the data provided by MRI scans. 

The more advanced MRI images will be analysed to determine how well the patients’ lungs work and how likely they are to recover well from surgery.

Professor Hatton said: “Surgery is the standard first-line treatment for early stage lung cancer patients, but a significant number of people have other pre-existing conditions that increases their risk of serious, harmful effects. An intensive course of high-dose radiotherapy then becomes the preferred treatment option.

“Reaching the correct treatment decision is a complex process that requires comprehensive and accurate assessment of lung function. Getting this choice right will improve survival and quality of life for those undergoing treatment.”

The study, funded by a £350,000 investment from Yorkshire Cancer Research, will involve 40 lung cancer patients recruited from South Yorkshire. If successful, the trial could lead to a new MRI imaging referral service being rolled out across Yorkshire or the UK. 

Yorkshire Cancer Research has also announced a £620,000 investment in a study led by Anna Roberts and Dr Abi Fisher at University College London.

Breast, prostate and bowel cancer patients from South Yorkshire will be recruited to take part in the project, which will test whether a physical activity mobile app can be used to help patients living in the region. 

If the app can be introduced into treatment plans effectively, the team will explore whether it increases physical activity, improves quality of life and reduces cancer-related side effects. 

Physical activity may improve the chance of survival in cancer patients and reduce the risk of the cancer returning 2. People living with and after cancer also experience less fatigue, pain, anxiety, depression and sleep disturbances, and report a higher health-related quality of life 3,4.

In South Yorkshire, cancer incidence and mortality rates are higher than the national average 5. Many people are also physically inactive. About 31% of adults in Rotherham and 24% of adults in Sheffield complete less than 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week, compared to the England average of 22.2% 6

Ms Roberts said: “Research shows that people living with or after cancer can find it challenging to maintain or increase physical activity during and after treatment and it can be difficult to access local, appropriate support services. 

“People affected by cancer who take part in physical activity are more likely to live longer, less likely to get cancer again and experience fewer side effects from treatment. There is a huge need for evidence-based resources that are accessible, low cost and can be rolled out quickly to large numbers of people.”

Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “We want to ensure that people with cancer in Yorkshire have the best possible experience, from the point of diagnosis onwards. 

“This means improving their opportunity to be diagnosed at the earliest possible stage; ensuring they receive the best treatment for their cancer and providing innovative support programmes so they can be prepared for and recover well from treatment. 

“It also means increasing access to cutting-edge treatments and ensuring Yorkshire remains at the forefront of world-class research. This is only possible thanks to the support of Yorkshire people which allows us to invest in innovative projects to help cancer patients in our communities.” 



  1. Papi A, Casoni G, Caramori G, et al. COPD increases the risk of squamous histological subtype in smokers who develop non-small cell lung carcinoma. Thorax 2004;59:679-681.
  2. Lahart IM, Metsios GS, Nevill AM, Carmichael AR. Physical activity, risk of death and recurrence in breast cancer survivors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. Acta Oncol. 2015;54(5):635-654
  3. Mishra SI, Scherer RW, Geigle PM, et al. Exercise interventions on health-related quality of life for cancer survivors. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2012;8:CD007566
  4. Mishra SI, Scherer RW, Snyder C, Geigle PM, Berlanstein DR, Topaloglu O. Exercise interventions on health-related quality of life for people with cancer during active treatment. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2012(8):N.PAG-N.PAG 1p.
  5. CancerData, https://www.cancerdata.nhs.uk/ 
  6. Public Health England, Percentage of physically inactive adults, https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/physical-activity/data#page/0/gid/1938132899/pat/6/par/E12000003/ati/102/are/E08000016


Nikki Brady, Senior PR Officer, Yorkshire Cancer Research. Tel: 01423 877228. Email: nikki@ycr.org.uk

Notes to Editors

  • Harrogate-based Yorkshire Cancer Research was founded in 1925 and is the largest independent regional cancer charity in England (Registered Charity 516898). We are not part of a national charity.
  • We are committed to reducing the devastating impact of cancer on the lives of people living in Yorkshire.
  • Our mission is to work in partnership, fund research and support initiatives that will help people in Yorkshire avoid, survive and cope with cancer.
  • Current statistics show that 583 people are diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire every week. Incidence and mortality rates are higher than the England average due to social deprivation, post-industrialisation and lifestyle choices but also availability of healthcare services and difficulties accessing early diagnostics, clinical trials and the latest treatments.
  • We aim to:
    • Be the leading authority on cancer in Yorkshire, understanding the problems and priorities in the region and sharing knowledge with partners.
    • Raise awareness of cancer and how to prevent it by working in local communities, schools and colleges, sports clubs and with other health-related organisations.
    • Promote screening programmes and fund research that can improve the diagnosis of cancer so we can detect and treat it at the earliest opportunity.
    • Invest in innovative research projects at every stage of a cancer patient's journey.
  • For further information, please visit www.yorkshirecancerresearch.org.uk or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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