Funding Boost for Cancer Research in North Wales
This summer, Cancer Research Wales, has pledged almost £500,000 for a series of new cancer projects in North Wales, bringing the total money spent over the last 5 years for cancer research in the area to almost £3M. Below we take a look at several of these recently awarded projects and the benefits we hope they will bring to cancer patients in North Wales and further afield.
The North Wales Primary Care Research Centre, based in Wrexham, has received funding to trial a newly developed interventional tool kit for use in GP surgeries. This is designed to help better identify patients likely to have cancer, leading to earlier diagnosis. Practices which have the highest referral rates for suspected cancer, consistently have improved outcomes, compared to those with lower rates of referral. Over 90% of patients eventually diagnosed with cancer will first visit their GP with symptoms, however, cancer symptoms are often vague and more common to other less serious conditions.
This new trial will use a series of targeted interventions developed in response to the identified needs of GPs. It is hoped the educational workshops will accurately pinpoint patients suspected of having cancer and optimise the process of patient referral without causing undue anxiety and over diagnosis. All practice staff, in addition to GPs, will be trained to ensure patients with troublesome vague symptoms are adequately followed up and not missed through the creation of practice cancer champions. Up to thirty selected GP surgeries across Wales will participate in the first phase of the study.
As around 25% of all medical oncologists in Europe are trained to PhD level, it becomes ever more important to upskill and train the talented oncologists we already have in Wales. Dr. Ramsay McFarlane from Bangor University, will oversee the training of the first clinical PhD studentship funded by Cancer Research Wales.
The appointed oncologist will work on developing a clinical platform that will use newly discovered predictive cancer markers to help clinicians make better informed treatment decisions. This will help ensure the right patients receive the right treatment at the right time. Lung and bowel cancers - Wales’ two biggest causes of cancer mortality, with almost 3000 deaths from these alone – will form the focus of this much needed early piece of clinical research.
Dr Ramsay MacFarlane, from Bangor University, said “Research from scientists world-wide, including Wales, has shown us that cancer patients can respond to many current treatments in very individual ways, and has resulted in new treatments being developed. It is critical to ensure that our hard working Welsh clinicians are equipped with the insight and skills to take advantage of emerging developments for the benefit of Welsh patients. This important funding from Cancer Research Wales will ensure that new discoveries and developments in cancer research from all over the world will benefit patients in Wales and it will help to ensure that Wales continues to contribute to leading the world in cancer research and reducing cancer deaths.”
Elsewhere, Dr Pasquale Innominato, working within Besti Cadwaladr University Health Board will investigate if user-friendly technologies can be adopted to create more streamlined processes during clinic time. While waiting in clinic, patients will be given the opportunity to use an electronic-tablets to complete e-questionnaires about their general health to ensure patient-clinician interactions are more efficient.
The information captured will include factors such as fatigue, pain, sleep disturbance, anxieties, amongst other things. This holistic approach will serve to better structure consultation time and ensure all patient issues are addressed leading to better overall patient experiences. If successful this study will be expanded to include the testing of such digital platforms in patients homes to help create a multi-dimensional triage system.
Ann Tate, CEO at Cancer Research Wales, said, ‘It is very important for Cancer Research Wales to help build and encourage a research intensive environment within local Health Boards and their associated Universities, as numerous studies have shown, those who achieve this always report better patient outcomes. We hope this new investment for cancer research in North Wales continues to provide the opportunity for local clinicians realise their full potential and to help bring earlier diagnosis and better treatments closer to home. We would also like to thank all our supporters across Wales, without whose help and generosity, none of the above would be possible’.
Notes to editor:
About Cancer Research Wales:
- Founded in 1966 by a small group of professors based at Velindre Hospital in Cardiff, Cancer Research Wales has since grown to become a major force in the discovery of new precision treatments for cancer, early diagnosis and progress towards cures.
- The charity is heavily supported by ordinary people from across Wales, via legacies, incredible fundraising challenges, donations and charity shop purchases. Every donation made to Cancer Research Wales goes straight to the teams of leading, world-class scientists based in Wales, for the benefit of cancer patients everywhere.
Publication date: 8 October 2019