Researchers in Cambridge are set to receive a £5m Cancer Research UK’s Catalyst Award to improve the early detection of cancers in GP surgeries. The CanTest team, led by Dr Fiona Walter from the University of Cambridge, will work with researchers in three UK sites and across the globe on a five year project that will help GPs to detect cancers in a primary care setting, enabling patients to benefit from innovative approaches and new technologies, and reducing the burden of referrals.

We know that GPs sometimes have to wait weeks for results before they can make any decisions for their patients. We’re trying to reduce this time by assessing ways that GPs could carry out the tests by themselves, as long as it’s safe and sensible to do so

Fiona Walter

The research will prioritise ‘difficult-to-diagnose’ cancers, which are also associated with poorer survival outcomes, and will look at both existing and novel technologies.

Dr Walter, from the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, says: “We know that GPs sometimes have to wait weeks for results before they can make any decisions for their patients. We’re trying to reduce this time by assessing ways that GPs could carry out the tests by themselves, as long as it’s safe and sensible to do so. We are open to assessing many different tests, and we’re excited to hear from potential collaborators.”

The Award aims to boost progress aligned to Cancer Research UK’s strategic priorities by building new collaborations within and between institutions, also involving researchers based at the University of Exeter, UCL (University College London), the University of Leeds and a number of international institutions.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to transform cancer diagnosis and we are delighted that Cancer Research UK is investing so substantially in primary care cancer research,” adds Dr Walter. “This award will enable us to nurture a new generation of researchers from a variety of backgrounds to work in primary care cancer diagnostics, creating an educational ‘melting pot’ to rapidly expand the field internationally.”

The Catalyst Award supports capacity building and collaboration in population health with up to £5 million awarded to enable teams to deliver impact over and above what they could do alone.

Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “This collaboration will help us discover new and more effective ways to diagnose cancer by applying different methods to GP surgeries, and finding out what really works for them on the job.

“By investing in future experts in this field, it will allow us to continue searching for the best way to diagnose cancer patients for many years to come. This has potential not only to save GPs’ and patients’ time, but also to reduce the anxiety patients feel when waiting for their results.”

Adapted from a press release by Cancer Research UK.


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