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Investment for those with cancer

12 January 2011

The Institute of Psychiatry (IoP) at King’s College London has secured research funding from the Department of Health to improve cancer survival rates.

The IoP is a partner in a £4.7million Policy Research Unit dedicated to achieving early cancer screening and diagnosis. The funding is provided over five years by the Department of Health.  

Amanda Ramirez, Professor of Liaison Psychiatry and Lindsay Forbes, Clinical Senior Lecturer in Health Services Research, at King’s are leading the work within the new Department of Health Policy Research Unit on promoting cancer awareness and early symptomatic presentation.

Professor Ramirez, said: ‘We have a unique opportunity to support the development of national policy to improve outcomes for those affected by cancer. We will be examining ways of changing people’s health awareness, beliefs and behaviours, so they are more likely to attend for cancer screening, as well as to present to a doctor more promptly if they discover a cancer symptom.’

Dr Forbes, said: ‘Our programme of work will provide the evidence and recommendations to avoid deaths from cancer due to late diagnosis.’

Earlier diagnosis

The Unit aims to undertake research to underpin earlier diagnosis of cancers, enabling more successful treatment and ensuring better survival rates. Currently, the UK has poorer survival rates from some cancers than many of its European counterparts.

The remit of the Policy Research Unit will include:

Studies of cancer awareness and survival

Studies of GP response to cancer symptoms

Expansion of case-control estimation of the benefits of the cervical screening programme to the breast and bowel screening programmes

Assessment of interventions to enhance cancer awareness, improve access to screening and promote diagnosis at an earlier stage 

The Unit is led by Stephen Duffy - Professor of Cancer Screening at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry. Other collaborating Universities and joint recipients of part of the funding are University College London; the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; Hull; York Medical School; Peninsula Medical School, and the University of Durham.

Within the Department of Psychological Medicine at the IoP, Professor Amanda Ramirez directs and Dr Lindsay Forbes co-directs the King’s College London Promoting Early Presentation Group which aims to provide evidence to inform policy and practice to tackle the burden of avoidable death due to delay in presentation in people with symptomatic cancer, with a particular focus on breast cancer.

The National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative (NAEDI), a partnership between the Department of Health, the NHS and Cancer Research UK, was formally launched in November 2008. The overall goal of the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative (NAEDI) is to promote earlier diagnosis of cancer, thereby to improve cancer survival rates and reduce cancer mortality.

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