Supporters were given the opportunity to learn more about the life-saving work funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research at a special event for the charity’s supporters and fundraisers.
The event, held in October at the Thackray Museum, Leeds, celebrated the pioneering projects being led by researchers in the city.
Talks began with a presentation by Dr Louise Murray, an Honorary Consultant Clinical Oncologist at the Leeds Cancer Centre, part of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
Dr Murray is a Yorkshire Cancer Research University Clinical Academic Fellow, and is funded by the charity to find ways to improve radiotherapy and reduce long-term side effects of treatment.
She explained how magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is now being used to pinpoint the precise location of tumours and surrounding healthy tissue, ensuring treatment is delivered as accurately as possible and the dose to normal tissue is minimised. This new technology is helping doctors treat more cancers successfully while causing fewer side effects.
Dr Murray’s work focuses on how MRI can be better integrated into treatment for brain and pelvic tumours by more accurately defining areas for radiotherapy, calculating doses and determining how radiotherapy might be adapted in response to changes in tumours during treatment.
She is also investigating how we can safely treat patients with a second dose of radiotherapy, without causing long-term side effects. Another part of her project will determine how radiotherapy can be used to treat advanced pancreatic cancer.
Finding lung cancer early
Dr Mat Callister, Consultant Respiratory Physician at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, then told the audience about the Leeds Lung Health Check, a pioneering lung screening programme funded by the charity.
Lung cancer is the biggest cause of premature death in Leeds, with more people dying from it than heart disease, stroke, lung disease, liver disease and any other type of cancer.
Most patients are diagnosed at a late stage, when the cancer is advanced and may have spread to other parts of the body. When cancer is advanced, it can be more difficult to treat and the chances of survival are lower.
The Leeds Lung Health Check is helping to diagnose patients at an early stage, before they experience any symptoms, so they can be treated successfully.
The checks, which include a lung CT scan, are being carried out in mobile units based in convenient to reach locations such as supermarket and shopping centre car parks.
More than 3,000 people at high risk of developing lung cancer have been screened so far and over 40 cancers have been diagnosed, allowing most of those patients to receive life-saving treatment.
By improving the likelihood of early diagnosis, the charity is helping to reduce the number of deaths from lung cancer in the city. Information from the project will also be used to demonstrate how a lung screening programme could be introduced nationally.
Gold-standard bowel cancer treatment
Supporters and fundraisers were also introduced to the work of Dr Nick West, a University Clinical Academic Fellow in Molecular and Digital Pathology and Honorary Consultant in Gastrointestinal Pathology at the University of Leeds.
Dr West is a pathologist, which involves the scientific study of disease. His focus is bowel cancer, the fourth most common cancer in Yorkshire and the second most common cause of cancer death.
Dr West is part of a team leading the charity’s Bowel Cancer Improvement Programme. The team is helping to improve the survival of bowel cancer patients through better quality surgery, radiology and pathology at Yorkshire’s hospitals.
As part of the project, the team has helped bring testing for an inherited genetic condition called Lynch syndrome - which can increase the risk of developing bowel cancer – to Yorkshire. People diagnosed with Lynch syndrome can access regular tests designed to find cancer at the earliest possible stage or pick up abnormalities before they turn into cancer. Doctors treating cancer patients with Lynch syndrome can also tailor treatment to specific cancer types.
During coffee and lunch breaks, attendees had the opportunity to browse an exhibition featuring a wide range of the charity’s research projects.
One of the attendees, Ray Whincup, said of the event: “We were looked after from start to finish, and enjoyed the thought-provoking presentations by the very eminent speakers. Nobody wants to be diagnosed with cancer, but if it should happen, Leeds facilities and services are Premier Division. Yorkshire people should be proud that Yorkshire Cancer Research funds so many lifesaving projects.”
Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “Our Research Showcase provided an opportunity to thank our supporters for their fundraising and donations. Without the continued support of the people of Yorkshire, we simply couldn’t fund our work across Yorkshire to prevent cancer and increase the likelihood of survival.”
If you would like a representative from Yorkshire Cancer Research to visit your group to explain the charity’s work, please contact Andy Wilson, Research Engagement Manager, by emailing email@example.com.
About Yorkshire Cancer Research
• 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.
• Current statistics show that 594 people are diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire every week.
• Our mission is for 2,000 more people to survive cancer every year in Yorkshire.
• There are lots of cancer problems across the region that need to be tackled on a local level. We work in partnership with researchers, clinicians, the NHS, public health bodies and other charities to fund innovative work in four key areas: prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and clinical trials.
• For more information, please visit www.yorkshirecancerresearch.org.uk or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
Nikki Brady, Senior PR Officer, Yorkshire Cancer Research. Tel: 01423 877228. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org