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Future of Cancer Care considered in new report

Photo: @LoweCM

A new report, published by Policy@Manchester looks at pioneering research and treatment being conducted in Manchester and how the region’s care networks are serving as an example of international best practice.

One in two people born in the UK since 1960 will have cancer in their lifetime, but thanks to advancements in cancer care and treatments, more people now survive their disease for ten years or more, than die from it. The new publication offers academic insight and policy recommendations on cancer’s prevention, diagnosis, and treatment – including how new technologies and treatments can be integrated into cancer care pathways, to improve outcomes and quality of life.

Policy@Manchester, The University of Manchester’s policy engagement team gathered a panel of experts to discuss the future of cancer care in the UK and abroad, including specialists on AI and algorithms in clinical settings, advanced radiotherapies, and international healthcare collaborations.

The report was published at a special event in the heart of Westminster with a panel including Professor Ananya Choudhury, Chair and Honorary Consultant in Clinical Oncology, Dr Dónal Landers, Strategic Director of the digital Experimental Cancer Medicine Team, Professor Rob Bristow, Director of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre and His Excellency Mr Manoah Esipisu, Kenya High Commissioner to the UK. The session was chaired by Denis Campbell, Health policy editor for the Guardian and the Observer.

The benefit that innovation can bring:

The panel discussion forms part of a wider launch event for Policy@Manchester’s latest publication, On Cancer, which combined academic insight and analysis with clear recommendations to policymakers on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.

Dr Landers talked on AI, algorithms, and machine learning in clinical settings, what policymakers and regulators need to do to ease their wider introduction and the benefits that introduction can bring. He also discussed the role that digital devices can play in allowing patients to have treatment in their own homes.

Speaking on the report, Dr Dónal Landers and Dr Gareth Price at The University of Manchester, said: “With a responsible and ethical approach to the development and deployment of AI in healthcare settings, we can expect these new technologies to revolutionise cancer testing and treatments.”

Professor Choudhury’s research covers advanced radiotherapies, including Proton Beam Therapies, FLASH radiotherapies and a new technology being pioneered in Manchester which combines treatment with real-time tumour monitoring. She highlighted how these new technologies can fit into the cancer treatment landscape, and the increased patient choice they bring.

The Director of the Manchester Cancer Research Centre, Professor Bristow spoke about the wider context of the articles in On Cancer, both in the UK and abroad. He discussed some of the pioneering research and treatment being conducted in Manchester and how the region’s care networks are serving as an international model.

Widening the launch to include international examples, His Excellency Manoah Esipisu told the audience about the Kenya-UK Healthcare Alliance between institutions in Manchester and Nairobi. He discussed the benefits that these kinds of partnerships can bring in terms of health, trade, and training, and how sharing data is helping researchers in the UK to better treat cancers in our diverse population.

Final Thought:

The pandemic has been exceptionally challenging for people living with cancer. Waiting lists are on the rise and fresh ideas are necessary to clear the backlog.

The report launched by Policy@Manchester gave some good ideas, the technology of tomorrow is available today and the thoughts by the panel offered interesting insight. However, there was one glaring absence on the panel – NHS England.

NHS England is coming under increasing pressure from Ministers to do more to reduce cancer waiting lists – they have got a plan, but it requires radical thinking to effect change and quickly. Ministers know that AI will take time to fully embed and are therefore keen to see a focus on access to diagnostics and cutting edge therapies.

The paper and panel adds weight to the argument that this is not a binary decision and that you can deliver on both.

Update:

The full video will be made available shortly.

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