In this week’s Community Focus the head of Yorkshire Cancer Research tells us how the charity is tackling the disease in Leeds.
Chief executive Dr Kathryn Scott explains the work it does and the research it funds.
Tell us about your lung cancer screening trial which was launched in Leeds?
The Leeds Lung Health Check, funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research, is giving people at high risk of developing lung disease the chance to take part in a pioneering research project. Around 7,000 people across the city who smoke or used to smoke are being invited for a special type of x-ray called a screening CT scan that can detect very early signs of lung cancer.
The lung health checks are taking place in a mobile screening unit, which will travel to easy-to-access locations across Leeds over the next four years.
The number of people who have been scanned currently stands at 117, but we expect to scan more than 7,000 people over the course of the trial. And out of these 7,000, we will find approximately 300 cancers and save many lives. People must be invited to take part in the Leeds Lung Health Check by their GP. There are very specific criteria for being invited to a scan including smoking history, age and location.
Tell us about the Active Beyond Cancer scheme?
In 2016, the charity funded a new cancer rehabilitation programme, delivered in partnership with Leeds Rhinos Foundation. So far, 90 cancer patients have been supported.
What type of research do you fund?
When deciding what projects to fund we take a three-pronged approach: preventing cancer, finding it early and uncovering ways to improve treatment. Our research and community health initiatives span the whole patient journey, from diagnosis to end-of-life care. We’re dedicated to helping people reduce their risk of cancer by making healthy lifestyle choices, and ensuring people are diagnosed at the earliest possible stage through raising awareness of cancer signs and symptoms and promoting national screening programmes. But we also fund projects that will improve the standard of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy at hospitals across the region, and we fund clinical trials to bring innovative cancer drugs to Yorkshire. We also hold an annual event called Let’s Talk about Cancer, offering practical advice and support to help patients live long and healthy lives with and after cancer.
How is your goal of saving 2,000 lives a year by 2025 progressing?
Every week in Yorkshire, 583 people are diagnosed with cancer. People are also more likely to get cancer, and more likely to die from it, than those living in most other areas of England. We want to change this. By analysing Yorkshire cancer data, identifying areas of need and funding research in the region, we’re tackling Yorkshire’s specific cancer problems and helping to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer on a local level. In order to save 2,000 more Yorkshire lives every year from cancer by 2025, we’ve estimated that the charity will need to invest up to £100m in research and community health programmes.
So far, we’ve invested £40m in ongoing trials and projects.
We’re confident we will achieve our goal with the continued support of the people of Yorkshire.”