£6.5m ‘pioneering’ cancer trials to put region at ‘cutting-edge’

EIGHT “pioneering” cancer research projects in Yorkshire are to receive £6.5m in funding, including £1,4m for a Hull University project to develop a new guide for GPs on how to manage patients’ concerns, and more than £2m on lung cancer trials in Leeds and Sheffield.

Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 6:07 am
Further funding has been announced for the Leeds Lung Health Check - a multi-million pound mobile project funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research. Photo: Jonathan Pow/[email protected]

The projects, funded by Harrogate-based Yorkshire Cancer Research, have been specifically chosen to focus on improving early diagnosis, treatment and quality of life for cancer patients living in the region.

It will address specific issues faced by Yorkshire patients, and aims to directly impact the number of who survive cancer and go on to live long and healthy lives.

According to the charity, every week in Yorkshire, 583 people are diagnosed with cancer.

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Chief executive Dr Kathryn Scott said: “We want to ensure 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 investment is the result of extensive analysis of the Yorkshire cancer landscape, thorough consultation with patients, family members and carers, and the continued strength of the charity’s partnerships with key organisations across the region.”

Among the projects to receive the funding announced today is £1.4m for a four-year trial, led by Miriam Johnson, Professor of Palliative Medicine at Hull York Medical School, to develop and test a new guide to help GPs and practice nurses identify and manage the needs and concerns of people with cancer and their carers.

Almost half the funding, £3.4m, will go to projects in Leeds, including £193,000 for researchers at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust to investigate whether an education and lifestyle programme, including exercise, dietary advice and stop smoking support, can improve the wellbeing and survival of patients undergoing radiotherapy treatment to cure their lung cancer.

More than 600 people are diagnosed with lung cancer in Leeds every year.

Dr Kevin Franks, who will co-lead the study, said: “Advances in radiotherapy mean more lung cancer patients are surviving. However, in order to maximise the benefits of radiotherapy on its own or in combination with chemotherapy and immunotherapy there is an urgent need to ensure patients are as healthy as possible before, during and after treatment. If successful, this study could lead to a larger scale trial or a region-wide programme involving cancer centres and units across Yorkshire.”

At the University of Leeds, £790,000 will fund a trial involving breast and bowel cancer survivors using an online system to report symptoms and side-effects; while £1.7m will be used to investigate whether blood samples taken from people taking part in the Leeds Lung Health Check - a “pioneering” lung screening launched in November - could be used to more accurately determine who should have a lung scan and detect lung cancer earlier.

In Sheffield, almost £350,000 will be spent on a lung cancer trial using MRI imaging, and in Harrogate, £712,000 will fund the development of an exercise and health referral service that will combine one-to-one support with group sessions.