News and events

New funding announced to tackle lung and bowel cancer in Hull

7 February

Yorkshire Cancer Research has announced a £1m investment in new initiative to tackle lung and bowel cancer in Hull.

Professor Una Macleod

The two projects are part of a £7m Yorkshire-wide research programme aimed at improving lung cancer outcomes and increasing early diagnosis in the region.

The announcement follows expert workshops held last year, which were attended by more than 100 influential and experienced researchers from across the UK who helped to identify key areas for funding.

Cancer incidence and mortality rates in Yorkshire are higher than the national average1,2 and survival rates in Yorkshire vary significantly at a local level3. Cancer outcomes are particularly bad in Hull, where incidence and mortality rates are the highest in the region1,2.

The charity will invest £712,501 in a new community health campaign led by Professor Una Macleod, Dean of the Hull York Medical School, which will focus on raising awareness of lung cancer symptoms in the area and encouraging smokers and ex-smokers to attend lung health checks.

Hull has one of the highest smoking rates in the country, with an estimated 54,510 smokers living in the city4. 86% of lung cancers are caused by smoking5, and the number of people dying from lung cancer in Hull is three times the number dying from any other cancer2.

Two thirds of lung cancer patients in Hull are diagnosed at a late stage6, when it can be more difficult to treat. Only one in five people diagnosed with the most advanced stage of lung cancer will survive one year after their diagnosis7.

The team will also work with GP practices in the area to make it easier for people to get appointments and referrals for chest x-rays if they experience potential lung cancer symptoms. 

Professor Macleod said:

Hull is the third most deprived area in England and has the third highest smoking rate. Negative views and fears about cancer tend to be more common in deprived areas, and smokers who are at high risk of lung cancer can also be less aware of potential symptoms than non-smokers and are less likely to seek help.
Our aim is to improve the earlier diagnosis of lung cancer by getting people to see their doctor when they notice lung cancer symptoms, and by getting GPs to see and refer them sooner. If fewer people were diagnosed at an advanced stage, many lives could be saved. As a University, we are committed to helping transform healthcare provision in our region. Through pioneering research like this we will be able to improve the way our hospitals and GPs work as well as having an impact for patients and their families.

A second project in Hull, funded by a £347,666 investment, will focus on improving participation in bowel cancer screening. Bowel cancer is the second highest cause of death in Yorkshire2, and mortality rates in Hull are the highest in the region2.

 

Bowel scope screening is a new, one-off test carried out by specially trained doctors or nurses at NHS bowel cancer screening centres. A thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end is used to look at a section of the large bowel. It can find and remove small pre-cancerous growths called polyps from the bowel, which helps to prevent the disease, as well as identifying early cancers.

Bowel scope screening is being gradually rolled out across England, and will eventually be made available to all men and women aged 55. It differs from the home test kit offered to all 60-74 year olds, which is known as the FOB test. This tests for blood in stool samples, which can be an early sign of bowel cancer.

Hull has low participation rates in the current bowel cancer screening programme, with just over half of those eligible taking part8. It is anticipated that participation rates in bowel scope screening will be even lower.

Dr Lesley McGregor and Dr Christian von Wagner, based at University College London, will aim to increase participation by developing a leaflet about bowel scope screening and by comparing different types of GP reminders for people who fail to attend their appointment to see which works best.

Dr McGregor, Research Associate, said:

This project could increase participation in bowel scope screening by up to 15% in Hull. Research suggests that for every 489 people screened, one cancer death could be prevented. This means that if every person eligible for bowel scope screening in Hull took part, six lives could be saved every year and many more cases of cancer would be prevented. It is a vital tool in improving cancer survival. If successful, the project could be rolled out across Yorkshire.

Dr Kathryn Scott, Interim Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said:

We are extremely excited to announce this significant investment in two of Hull’s most worrying cancer problems. These projects are the result of an extensive process, involving expert advice from the country’s very best researchers, to determine how the charity can have the biggest possible impact on cancer survival rates in Yorkshire. We are incredibly grateful to all our supporters for making this investment possible.

References

  1. CancerData, Incidence, http://cancerdata.nhs.uk/incidence, Accessed [January 2017].
  2. CancerData, Mortality, http://cancerdata.nhs.uk/mortality, Accessed [January 2017].
  3. Office for National Statistics, Index of cancer survival for Clinical Commissioning Groups in England: adults diagnosed 999 to 2014 and followed up to 2015 https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/indexofcancersurvivalforclinicalcommissioninggroupsinengland/adultsdiagnosed1999to2014andfollowedupto2015, Accessed [January 2017].
  4. Public Health England, Public Health Profiles, Health Profiles, Adults’ health and lifestyle – “Smoking prevalence”, http://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/health-profiles, Accessed [January 2017].
  5. Parkin, Boyd and Walker, The fraction of cancer attributable to lifestyle and environmental factors in the UK in 2010, British Journal of Cancer 2011, 105: S1-S81.
  6. Cancer Commissioning Toolkit, Staging by Cancer site Public, 2013 – Stage data, https://www.cancertoolkit.co.uk/ExtractsReports/StagingByCancerSitePublic?downloadPackage=False, Accessed [December 2015].

    Note: The data is no longer held at this location. Details are provided on how to obtain the data.
  7. Public Health England, National Cancer Intelligence Network: cancer survival in England by stage, 2012, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cancer-survival-in-england-by-stage, Accessed [April 2016].
  8. Public Health England, National General Practice Profiles – Practice Summary, http://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/general-practice/data, Accessed [January 2017]
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