A new transatlantic research alliance has been announced by Cancer Research UK and their partners.
The International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED) is a partnership between Cancer Research UK, Canary Centre at Stanford University, the University of Cambridge, the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, UCL and University of Manchester.
It says that working together on early detection of cancer will mean patients benefitting more quickly.
Cancer Research UK will be investing £40m in the International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection over the next five years, with $20m being contributed by Canary Centre at Stanford University and the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute in Oregon.
Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said:
“Now is the time to be ambitious and develop effective new ways to detect cancer earlier. It’s an area of research where we have the potential to completely change the future of cancer treatment, turning it into a manageable and beatable disease for more people.”
“Real progress in early detection can’t be achieved by a single organisation. Benefits for patients will only be realized if early cancer detection leaders from around the world come together. No more siloes, no more missed opportunities; let us tackle this problem together and beat cancer.”
Scientists have been looking at how to develop less invasive testing, such as blood, breath and urine tests, improving imaging techniques for detecting cancer early and look for virtually undetectable signs of the disease.
They do admit that these types of tests could however be 30 years away from becoming commonplace.
“The fundamental problem is that we never get to see a cancer being born in a human being” said Dr David Crosby, head of early detection research at Cancer Research UK.
“By the time it’s found, it’s already established.”
He did admit however, that the new-found collaboration would “induce a sea-change in our health systems, shifting it from expensive firefighting of late-stage disease, to being able to intervene at its earliest point and deliver rapid, cost-effective treatment.”
In the UK, screening programmes exist for breast, bowel and cervical cancers, when people reach a certain age, but there are no reliable screening tools for a range of other cancers, such as pancreas, liver, lung and prostate.
BBC News. (2019). Cancer research: Scientists seek clues to how disease ‘is born’. Accessible: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-50088180. Last Accessed: 24 October 2019.