Giving cancer patients hope for a brighter future
Local MPs and MEPs have been given a unique insight into the ground-breaking discoveries at The CR-UK/YCR Sheffield Cancer Research Centre which are making a global impact on lifesaving cancer treatments.
The Centre, which is one of only 17 in the country, was launched in October 2011 in recognition of the city's world leading cancer research.
It joins the forces of Cancer Research UK, Yorkshire Cancer Research, the University of Sheffield, Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust investigating all types of cancer – with a particular interest in the spread of cancer to the bones, treatments for breast cancer as well as the locally common lung and bladder cancers.
The current research programmes that enable new drugs to progress from the laboratory bench to use at the bedside would not be possible without the selfless cancer patients from across Sheffield and the South Yorkshire region who volunteer for pioneering clinical research trials.
Paul Blomfield (MP for Sheffield Central), Linda McAvan (MEP for Yorkshire and The Humber) and Rebecca Taylor (MEP for Yorkshire and The Humber) were given the opportunity to meet researchers and patients who are working together in a bid to move one step closer to a cure for cancer.
Without these courageous volunteers new treatments improving the survival of cancer patients could never be achieved.
Chris Chapman, 69, was diagnosed with Myeloma in 2007 and was told by doctors his life expectancy was three to five years. Chris and his wife Sandra had lived in Lancaster for 18 years but decided to move to Sheffield in order to benefit from pioneering stem cell treatment.
He said: "Whilst living in Lancaster I was told I would have to travel to Manchester to undergo a stem cell harvest and transplant but even then there was no guarantee I would be given the treatment because of my age – it was a bit like a postcode lottery.
"My wife and I are originally from Rotherham so we took the decision to move to Sheffield because we knew I would get the very best treatment possible from the Sheffield Cancer Research Centre.
"When I was diagnosed I was initially told I would have five years at best, but for the last two years I have been able to lead a normal life and my condition is stable. I get tired easily but I can still do my gardening and do lots of normal things.
"If it wasn't for the pioneering treatment and the wonderful medical staff I would not be here now. I cannot fault them, and the treatment I have received has been brilliant.
"Taking part in this new treatment has not only helped me but hopefully it will go on to help hundreds of other people."
Father-of-three Barrie Mitchell, 50, from Sheffield was diagnosed with terminal thyroid cancer last October after suffering serve pain in his groin.
He said: "I had a fall and I thought I had suffered a footballing injury as it was excruciatingly painful. After going to my doctors they noticed something unusual on my x-ray and discovered thyroid cancer.
How common is cancer?
"I had an operation to remove a lump in my neck but unfortunately it has already spread to my groin area.
"There is nothing more the doctors can do for me, so the trial I am taking part in is the only hope I have to spend a little more time with my family.
"I remain really positive at all times and would like to do anything to try and help the doctors with their research."
Mr Mitchell is currently taking part in a clinical trial for a new form of tablet treatment. This involves regular check-ups at Weston Park Hospital where doctors closely monitor his heart rate, blood pressure and the progression of the cancer with CT scans.
"I have nothing but praise for Dr Wadsley and his team who are conducting the trial – they are absolutely wonderful. They certainly give me the full works when I go for my check-ups and to be honest it is really reassuring because I know my health is being monitored really closely.
"I cannot thank the staff enough for everything they have done for me."
Dr Jonathan Wadsley, Consultant Clinical Oncologist at Weston Park Hospital is the local principal investigator for a number of national trials with a particular focus on thyroid, upper GI, hepatobiliary and colorectal cancers.
"The team at the Cancer Clinical Trials Centre, based at Weston Park Hospital, have been major contributors to numerous clinical trials including some of the rarer cancers such as thyroid cancer," said Dr Wadsley.
"Each year one in five patients from our region with a cancer diagnosis takes part in a clinical trial. These trials have led to significant changes in the way that many cancers are treated around the world.
"This work includes not only the investigation of new drug therapies, but also research into the effects of the diagnosis and treatment of cancer on patients’ quality of life, and the investigation of genetic factors that might make some patients more likely than others to develop a particular cancer."
The CR-UK/YCR Sheffield Cancer Research Centre is helping to train the next generation of cancer researchers through prestigious studentships and fellowships while fostering strong links with the local community, increasing awareness of the world class research taking place right on their doorstep.
Professor Rob Coleman, Director of the Sheffield Cancer Research Centre, said: "The charity funding has given Sheffield the opportunity to organise cancer research across the city. It has allowed us to create interdisciplinary studentships which have encouraged the basic scientists like chemists and biologists at the University and the doctors in Sheffield Teaching Hospitals to get together and think up new research projects.
"Some of these projects use tissue samples and patient data collected as the patients undergo investigations and treatment to look for new ways to detect cancer earlier. The samples can also be used to investigate ways to predict which treatments will work best for an individual patient.
"This helps the doctors personalise cancer treatments so that patients receive therapy that is most likely to be of benefit. This makes better use of NHS resources and reduces the chance of patients experiencing unnecessary side-effects.
"He added: "One current project is looking at developing new drugs in the chemistry department that destroy the cancer’s blood vessels. Another is investigating a new way to deliver radiotherapy to lung cancer patients.
"Our aim was to show the visiting MPs and MEPs the way the Centre is helping discover new drugs, test new therapies and use samples from patients to go back to the laboratory bench to be used in new research."
Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research. The charity’s ground-breaking work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.
This work is funded entirely by the public. Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, the charity was able to spend more than £332 million of research in 2011/12.
Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates in the UK double in the last forty years. Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to beat cancer.
Cancer Research UK is proud to be a partner in the Sheffield Cancer Research Centre and to work alongside Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity and Yorkshire Cancer Research to fund ground-breaking research in the region.
Cancer Research UK
Yorkshire Cancer Research
Yorkshire Cancer Research is the UK’s largest regional medical research charity, helping people avoid, survive and cope with cancer by funding world-class research, treatment and diagnosis throughout the county.
Over the last 25 years alone the charity has awarded a staggering £24.5 million to research teams based at the University of Sheffield so that more people in Yorkshire and beyond will survive cancer.
By funding research in Yorkshire, the charity ensures that people with cancer who live in the region have access to ground breaking treatments, while also contributing to the global fight against the disease.
Yorkshire Cancer Research is delighted to be a partner in the Sheffield Cancer Research Centre, which offers fantastic collaborative opportunities for researchers and clinicians to work together to strengthen treatments for cancer patients.
Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity
Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity is the dedicated charity for Weston Park Hospital, one of only four specialist cancer hospitals in the country.
The charity exists to fund cancer research and improve treatments and care for people living with cancer mainly across the North Trent region, which includes South Yorkshire, North Derbyshire, and parts of North Nottinghamshire and North Lincolnshire.
Over the last 17 years we have given over £5.7 million to fund cancer research and currently have funding commitments to cancer research here in Sheffield in excess of £1m. We fund research in both clinical trials and the laboratory, saving lives today and building hope for tomorrow.
We are proud to be a part of the partnership with Cancer Research UK and Yorkshire Cancer Research in the new Sheffield Cancer Research Centre and to collaborate with these two great organisations in the fight against cancer.
WPH Cancer Charity
The University of Sheffield
With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK’s leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. The University of Sheffield was named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards 2011 for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, and 2007).
These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world. The University’s research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, Slazenger, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.
The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. Its partnership with Leeds and York Universities in the White Rose Consortium has a combined research power greater than that of either Oxford or Cambridge.
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