High levels of research ‘boost cancer survival’, Leeds study finds

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Bowel cancer patients being treated in hospitals with high levels of research are more likely to survive, academics in Leeds have found.

An increase of nearly 4 per cent in five-year survival rates was recorded by the University of Leeds study and the effect was noticed even if the patients themselves were not involved in clinical trials, the researchers said.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is consistently in the top 10 trusts in the country for the number of studies it undertakes.

The new research looked at data from 209,968 patients diagnosed with bowel cancer in England between 2001 and 2008. Death rates in the first 30 days after surgery were 5 per cent in hospitals with high levels of research, and 44.8 per cent of patients survived for more than five years, compared to death rates of 6.5 per cent and a five-year survival rate of 41 per cent in other hospitals.

Lead author Dr Amy Downing, a senior research fellow at the University of Leeds, said: “We think that being more involved in research leads to better protocols, improved knowledge and better-trained staff, and this benefits the whole patient population.”

Co-author Matt Seymour, Professor of Gastrointestinal Cancer Medicine, added: “The effects may seem small – just a few per cent – but for a cancer that affects more than 40,000 people in the UK every year, a few per cent means a lot of lives.”

Charles Rowett, chief executive of Yorkshire Cancer Research, which helped fund the research, said: “We would urge all national and regional cancer research charities, the government and the NHS to work together so that everybody can benefit from the proven advantage of living close to research active hospitals.”