Yorkshire bowel cancer programme gets boost to help tackle ‘postcode lottery’

Yorkshire Cancer Research has given its Bowel Cancer Improvement Programme a £2.1 million funding boost to extend its research by five years.

Led by the University of Leeds, it’s hoped the programme can help tackle the ‘postcode lottery’ of treatment and provide ‘gold-standard’ care across the region.

Over 3,000 people in Yorkshire are said to be diagnosed with bowel cancer every year. But, since 2015, Yorkshire Cancer Research has funded researchers to analyse hospital data to find areas of improvement and implement change.

Philip Quirke, Professor of Pathology at the University of Leeds and study lead, said: “There is currently a postcode lottery in terms of treatment for bowel cancer. Our vision is to improve treatment for people with bowel cancer and ensure more of them survive.

“We want to offer the latest medical advances and make Yorkshire the best place for managing patients with bowel cancer. We also want to make Yorkshire the best place to do bowel cancer research so people in Yorkshire can benefit first.”

Dr Kathryn Scott, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Cancer Research, added: “This is about taking a holistic approach to bowel cancer diagnosis and treatment in our region. It is essential that hospitals in Yorkshire are able to learn from each other and adopt the most successful ways of working so that areas for improvement can be identified and the necessary changes implemented. 

“By creating a clear picture of bowel cancer treatment in Yorkshire, bringing together experts from all points in a patient’s journey and taking action to tackle local problems, we can ensure all patients receive gold standard care, irrespective of where they live and where they are treated.”

The programme’s team has also looked to learn from other nations, such as Denmark, which has a similar population size to Yorkshire but higher survival rates. It’s estimated that by achieving the same rates and standards, around 300 lives could be saved every year.

The project has already reportedly helped improve the region’s advanced disease and radiotherapy processes, as well as its radiology offering, MRI training, abdominoperineal excision and ways of checking patients for treatment side effects.

In addition, it’s also introduced screening for genetic conditions that can increase a person’s risk of developing the cancer.

Find out more about the programme here.