University to start new research into approaches for early diagnosis of cancer

University to start new research into approaches for early diagnosis of cancer

The University of Cumbria is proud to announce that it is starting new research that will help to shape future national NHS cancer services.

The university’s Health and Social Care Evaluations (HASCE) team has secured £50,000 from the Northern Cancer Alliance (NCA) for the nine-month ‘Vague Symptoms Pathways Research’ project.

Academics from the University of Cumbria will explore the implementation of several specialist multi-disciplinary diagnostic centres in northern England.

The centres work to identify new ways of diagnosing cancer more rapidly in patients whose early symptoms are not clear but are concerning.

Senior research fellow Vicki Goodwin and Dr Tom Grimwood lead HASCE, the university’s specialist unit for commissioned research in health and social care.

Dr Grimwood said: “Typically patients who present to GPs with symptoms that could be cancer may get sent for one test, then back to the GP, then for another test, back to the GP and so on. Using a model first developed in Denmark, the Vague Symptoms Pathways project is piloting a one-stop-shop for tests, using multi-disciplinary teams to identify signs of cancer earlier.

“We will be carrying out quantitative and qualitative research into these new pathways, looking at what works, for who, and why. Our work will cover three areas – Sunderland, South Tyneside and South Tees; Cumbria, Northumberland and Newcastle; and Durham and Gateshead.”

Vicki added: “This is our second research project with the NCA. We have an ongoing project for the ‘Early Diagnosis Transformation Programme’ which aims to improve the early diagnosis strategies which aim to improve survival rates and patient outcomes.

“We are thrilled to be working once again with the National Cancer Alliance and partners across the north of England on this significant work that will inform national research and policymakers.”

Alison Hampson is head of the Department of Health, Psychology and Social Studies at the university, which includes the HASCE research operation.

She said: “HASCE’s research will feed into a national research project led by NHS England, Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support.

“As such it will provide the creation of knowledge that is both of critical importance to communities and clinicians, and of national significance in terms of devising future approaches to improving outcomes for cancer patients.”

With further funding possible, HASCE’s senior research fellows are optimistic that they will be able to extend their reach and explore rapid diagnosis of cancer pathway schemes and centres in other areas of England in the future.

HASCE’s research has included projects for major clients including the North West Ambulance Service, Heritage Lottery Fund, Greater Manchester Police, Cumbria Partnership Foundation Trust, Civil Nuclear Constabulary and several NHS clinical commissioning groups.

The Northern Cancer Alliance (NCA) aims to achieve improvement in cancer survival in the North East and North Cumbria by changing the way cancer is detected and diagnosed.