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Cancer Research UK launches hi-tech research centre at Imperial

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by Cancer Research UK | News

23 June 2010

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A new cutting-edge cancer centre dedicated to robotic surgery, cancer imaging and drug discovery is launched today, putting London at the forefront of cancer research.

The Imperial Cancer Research UK Centre will see more than 200 clinicians and scientists from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Imperial College London working together to develop breakthrough treatments for the disease.

The Centre is the latest link in a unique chain of centres being launched around the country. Cancer Research UK already supports research at Imperial but is set to increase its contribution to £8 million a year to help develop the Centre.

Scientists at the centre will build on Imperial’s internationally renowned clinical and research strengths. They will develop robotic technology to bring the latest surgical techniques to cancer patients in London. They will also carry out research using the latest imaging techniques to watch cancer drugs at work inside the patient’s body, identifying which treatments work best at an earlier stage.

It will primarily focus on breast, ovarian and colorectal cancer research but being the hub of the West London Cancer Network, the Centre’s work will have a broad remit.

The Centre also aims to engage with the community, stakeholders and fundraisers to increase awareness and understanding of cancer in a bid to improve public health.

Collaboration will be the key to the Centre’s success, making it easier for researchers in the laboratory to work alongside doctors treating patients on the ward. This enables patients to benefit as soon as possible from advances in research.

Professor Charles Coombes, head of the Division of Cancer at the College and consultant oncologist at the Trust who will help lead the Centre, said: “We have ambitious plans to develop new cancer therapies and interventions which will save lives and improve the quality of care not just in our hospitals but for cancer patients everywhere.

“We aim to improve all aspects of cancer care from prevention, detection and early diagnosis, to treatment and palliative care. We will also focus on personalised treatment, so patients receive the care that best suits their clinical and emotional needs.”

Professor Ara Darzi, head of the Division of Surgery at the College and consultant surgeon at the Trust added: “The Centre’s research will be truly cutting edge and will set the pace for national and international progress in a number of cancers. I look forward to building on our pioneering work in robotic surgery, and minimally invasive and imaged guided surgery for the benefit of patients.”

Philip O’Driscoll, 34, was treated using robotic surgery after he was diagnosed with kidney cancer in November 2009. He was treated at St Mary’s Hospital, part of Imperial College Healthcare.

Philip, a personal trainer, from Paddington, West London, said: “The tumour was only found by accident while I was being treated for an unrelated illness. I didn’t realise at the time that the robotic treatment I was having was so new.

“It meant that my turnaround time from diagnosis to full recovery was much quicker than it would have been with conventional surgery. It was less intrusive and I only lost about a cupful of blood during the procedure and I have just three small scars.

“I was only in hospital for four days, I could eat the day after the operation and I was back at work within two months.

“Robotic treatment was definitely the preferred option for me and I would have no hesitation recommending it to anyone if they are suitable for it.”

Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “Funding these centres of excellence is one of the charity’s priorities and will enable us to work towards the goals we have set to improve the treatment and survival of cancer patients.

“We’re able to launch this new centre thanks to the generous donations of our supporters but we need their continued support if we are to build on what we have started today.”


For media enquiries please call the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 7061 8300, or the out of hours’ duty press officer on 07050 264059.