ONE of Scotland’s leading cancer charities has committed £850,000 to a ground-breaking radiotherapy research project which will have a significant impact on survival rates and quality of life for cancer patients across Scotland and further afield.
The Beatson Cancer Charity-funded project will be led by world-renowned cancer specialist Professor Anthony Chalmers and hails to be a vital step in the campaign to beat cancer.
The charity is providing £850,000 over an initial three year period to fund research aimed at improving survival and quality of life for patients with poor prognosis cancers by optimising radiotherapy treatments.
This will be achieved by creating the necessary research infrastructure that will enable Glasgow to become an internationally recognised centre for radiotherapy research.
Despite improvements in survival rates in recent years, cancer remains a critical challenge as Scotland’s number one killer.
One in three people in Scotland will develop cancer during their lifetime.
More than 50% of patients receive radiotherapy and it is the primary form of treatment for 40% of patients whose cancer is cured.
Professor Anthony Chalmers commented: “Radiotherapy has been one of the most effective forms of cancer treatment for many years.
“Today, we have a wide range of innovative equipment and techniques that deliver radiotherapy much more accurately meaning in some cases we can give a higher dose to a tumour, increasing the possibility of cure.
“These are exciting breakthroughs and at The Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre we’re continuing to refine them in our radiotherapy department and in our laboratories.
“The next critical step is to test them on patients and for that we need financial support to create the Radiotherapy Research Project.”
He added: “The Beatson is an international centre of excellence.
“Some of the new approaches that are revolutionising radiotherapy treatments have been developed in Glasgow and now we need to recruit and support the experts who will turn pioneering research into life-saving treatments.
“The project will significantly increase the ability of radiotherapy treatments to shrink, control and in some cases eradicate cancers. This is positive news for those with lung, brain, pancreas and head and neck cancers where there is currently a poor outlook.
“On behalf of everyone at The Beatson and throughout the Glasgow cancer research community, I’m very grateful to Beatson Cancer Charity for this incredible support which will change the face of cancer treatment on a global scale.”
Funding from the project will allow Professor Anthony Chalmers to assemble a team of leading researchers including a Project Administrator, Research Statistician, Data Development Manager, Consultant Clinical Oncologist, Research Radiographer and Senior Radiotherapy Physicist who will evaluate new techniques and treatments together, building upon The Beatson’s internationally recognised work.
The charity is also providing funding for advanced technology with which to carry out the life-changing research.
Beatson chief executive David Welch said: “Sadly the west of Scotland has one of the highest rates of cancer in Europe.
“This is a terrifying fact. In my role I see first-hand the immense courage of patients and families as they take on their cancer journey.
“By increasing the effectiveness of radiotherapy treatments, this key research will have a significant impact on survival rates and quality of life for cancer patients.
“At Beatson Cancer Charity, we’re proud and excited to be funding this revolutionary project.
“However we can’t do it alone – we need support from anyone who has experienced the wonderful care at The Beatson and its related facilities to enable the charity to put in place the very best experts to win the fight against cancer.
“I’d also like to express my sincere thanks to Ms Shona Robison for her continued support for Beatson Cancer Charity.”
Beatson Cancer Charity is committed to securing significant funding to enhance the experience, treatment, outcomes and wellbeing of current and former cancer patients and their families or carers in partnership with The Beatson.
As the lead centre for non-surgical cancer care in Scotland, it is one of the busiest cancer centre in the UK and one of the world’s leading cancer centres.
Andrew Fairlie, Chef Patron, said: “When I was told I had cancer, fear and uncertainty filled my mind.
“The treatment I received for my brain tumour was outstanding and the services provided by the charity brought enormous comfort to me and my family.
“To have world-leading research right here in Scotland, giving patients the very best chance at beating cancer is an amazing opportunity. What we fund now could change the nature of cancer treatment for generations to come.”
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “I welcome this research project which will have a significant impact on survival rates and quality of life for cancer patients across Scotland. I look forward to seeing the outcome of this research.
“This Government is committed to fighting cancer, which is why we launched our £100 million Cancer Strategy earlier this year.
“This investment includes £50 million for radiotherapy services which will fund new, state of the art equipment and employ an additional 100 radiotherapy specialists to work in our cancer centres.”
John Brown, chairman of NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, said: “This initiative is very positive news for patients not only in the west of Scotland, but also further afield.
“Beatson Cancer Charity is to be commended for putting in place the funding for such an important research project.
“The Beatson is already internationally recognised as a centre of excellence in cancer care and this project will further enhance that reputation.”