Medical school staff and Willie Hamilton wearing Cancer Research UK unity badges for World Cancer Day on 4 February.

New research to act as a catalyst to help GPs diagnose cancer

A revolutionary Cancer Research UK-funded project will investigate ways of bringing new and improved cancer diagnostic tests to GPs.

The CanTest project will aim to improve and develop new ways of diagnosing cancer in GP surgeries. It will assess the accuracy, cost effectiveness and suitability of a range of diagnostic methods and tools for both patients and GPs as a way to lower diagnostic waiting times and reduce the burden of referrals.

This £5 million funding is part of Cancer Research UK’s Catalyst Award which aims to help researchers from around the world deliver trailblazing progress in their field with long-lasting results. 

Professor Willie Hamilton, a lead researcher from the University of Exeter, said: “As a GP myself, I know that it can be frustrating to wait weeks for results before making any decisions for my patients. We’re trying to reduce this time by assessing ways that GPs could carry out these tests by themselves, as long as it’s safe and sensible to do so.

“We’re open to assessing many different tests, and we’re excited to hear from potential collaborators.”

CanTest will involve researchers based at the University of Cambridge, the University of Exeter, UCL (University College London), and the University of Leeds in the UK, and a number of international institutions. In addition to GPs, the researchers will also collaborate with scientists from multiple disciplines who are looking at diagnostic tests.

CanTest will help build a community of scientists and clinicians for diagnostic research, helping place the UK at the forefront of developing and implementing new cancer tests for GPs surgeries. To build the research community, CanTest will establish an International School for Cancer Detection Research in Primary Care, which will train and support a new generation of scientists seeking to make the leap into this field.

Dr Fiona Walter, a lead researcher from the University of Cambridge, said: “People are at the heart of delivering pioneering research and that is what CanTest is all about. We want 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.”

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.”

See Professor Hamilton talking about his work in aiding the early diagnosis of cancer here:

Date: 27 January 2017

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