Bladder cancer will be the focus of a new £750,000 investment by, Harrogate-based, Yorkshire Cancer Research, announced to mark Bladder Cancer Awareness Month in July.
Led by researchers at the University of Sheffield, the charity will carry out both a major survey of all patients diagnosed with bladder cancer in Yorkshire – estimated to be more than 5,000 people – and a clinical trial to discover the best way to treat aggressive bladder cancer that has been found at an early stage.
The survey will be focused on discovering what matters most to patients, identifying gaps in care and establishing methods to improve their quality of life. This will be the first survey of its kind to target bladder cancer patients. The results, known as ‘patient reported outcomes’, could help patients choose their most suitable treatment option, guide future care by identifying the likely outcomes of specific treatments, and improve services by recognising good practice and areas where improvement is needed.
The clinical trial will compare two different kinds of treatments for aggressive, but not yet invasive bladder cancer. Patients with this cancer are usually treated by either immediate bladder removal, called a cystectomy, or a bladder-preserving therapy.
Bladder-preserving therapy is the standard approach and involves a three-year treatment plan, but only a third of patients complete the three-year course due to side effects and a quarter go on to need a cystectomy anyway, with worse outcomes.
The issue has been raised by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as one of the top five bladder cancer research priorities, and the project will provide the information needed to run a larger, national trial.
Bladder cancer is particularly common in places like Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley, where incidence and mortality rates are higher than the national average. In 2014, the county had the lowest survival rate nationally, and there are also huge variations in outcomes across healthcare providers in Yorkshire.
Professor James Catto, Professor of Urology at the University of Sheffield, said:
Bladder cancer is a huge problem in Yorkshire.
This funding will allow us to carry out two vital studies that will help us ensure patients have the very best possible experience after they are diagnosed, and ultimately help more people survive the disease.