Yorkshire Cancer Research will invest £3.6m in eight new research projects to help improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in Yorkshire.
The projects cover a wide range of issues including reducing the risk of cancer and the recurrence of cancer, improving early diagnosis and increasing access to palliative care.
· Yorkshire Cancer Research will invest £1.3m in a four-year programme of research that will improve the quality of palliative care in the region. Researchers at the University of Leeds’ Academic Unit of Palliative Care, led by Professor Michael Bennett, and at Hull York Medical School, led by Prof Fliss Murtagh, will investigate how and when patients access palliative care, introduce new measures to improve how symptoms are formally assessed and monitored, and equip clinical teams with resources and training to help them address those symptoms.
· The charity will invest £357,000 in a project to help women with breast cancer reduce their risk of the disease returning. Researchers led by Dr Samuel Smith and Dr Christopher Graham at the Leeds Institute of Health Sciences will design and test a programme of therapy sessions to see if a psychological intervention can help increase the number of women who take hormonal therapies as prescribed to stop their cancer from coming back.
· A second breast cancer project, funded by a £238,000 investment and led by John Saxton, Professor in Clinical Exercise Physiology at Northumbria University, Newcastle, will focus on helping breast cancer patients achieve and maintain a healthy weight following treatment. A support programme, including counselling sessions, skills workshops and phone calls, will be co-designed with patient representatives. Dr Helen Crank, Reader at the Centre for Sport and Exercise Science, Sheffield Hallam University, will help to lead and coordinate the research.
· A two-year project, funded with a £118,000 investment, will aim to improve the early diagnosis of bowel cancer in rural areas of the county. Researchers, led by Dr Christina Dobson at the Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, will interview patients living in rural areas of North Yorkshire to understand their experiences of bowel cancer symptoms and their responses to them.
They will then discuss their findings with local residents, community organisations and representatives from the CCGs, public health and primary care practices during ‘village hall meetings’, working collaboratively to identify potential barriers and solutions to accessing healthcare.
· The charity will fund a £94,000 trial to test whether a follow-up phone call can improve participation in bowel cancer screening in the Bradford and Airedale area. The trial will be led by Ian Wallace, Head of Commissioning, Planned Care and Cancer, NHS Bradford City and Bradford Districts CCGs, who will work with local GP practices to deliver the project. People who have failed to complete the test will receive a phone call from trained staff, who will deliver a culturally appropriate message in a language that the patient understands.
· A £174,000 trial will test whether participation in cervical screening can be increased by sending women additional information and a help sheet. The trial, involving thousands of women aged 25-49 across Yorkshire, will be carried out by researchers at the University of Leeds’ School of Psychology and led by Professor Daryl O’Connor.
· Researchers at the University of Leeds’ Institute of Cancer and Pathology, led jointly by Dr Ane Appelt and Dr Simon Gollins and supported by a £394,000 investment, will carry out a phase II clinical trial of radiotherapy for early rectal cancer. The trial will test whether using a higher dose of radiotherapy can increase the number of patients whose cancer completely disappears following treatment with acceptable side-effects.
· A £912,000 investment will fund a smoking cessation service, to be delivered as part of the charity’s lung screening trial which starts in summer 2018. The screening trial, funded by a separate £5.2m investment, will be carried out in mobile vans within communities in Leeds.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham’s UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, led by Dr Rachael Murray, will offer those attending screening a picture of their own scan showing possible lung and heart damage, along with information about how stopping smoking reduces their risk of cancer and heart attacks. They will test whether the provision of personalised information increases smoking cessation rates.
Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “We are extremely proud to announce our latest research investment. The successful projects will address some incredibly important issues currently facing cancer patients in Yorkshire, including quality of life following diagnosis and how we can work to improve this.
“The most exciting thing about these projects is that thousands of people and patients across the region will have the chance to share their knowledge and guide our researchers in finding solutions to problems they face in improving their health and accessing early diagnosis and the very best care.
“We’d like to thank the charity’s supporters throughout the region who have made this investment possible. From holding Yorkshire tea parties to running marathons, every penny they have raised has been vital in helping us bring this pioneering research to Yorkshire.”