Published: 27 July 2015

The Inaugural Surrey Cancer Research Institute and King’s Health Partners Joint Cancer Conference

Event Report

Over 100 health professionals and patient and public representatives attended the inaugural Surrey Cancer Research Institute and King’s Health Partners Joint Cancer Conference, held at University of Surrey on June 26th 2015.

Keynote speakers from across the spectrum of cancer care and treatment demonstrated how we are poised on the edge of an exciting new era which will see an acceleration in the recovery of, and management options available to, patients as multiple new treatments, many of which are currently the subject of randomised controlled trials, are accepted into mainstream cancer services.

Dr Marc Davies, of the CAR Mechanics Laboratory at Guy's Hospital, examined how CAR T-cells are being used to drive tumours away and Professor Hardev Pandha, Professor of Medical Oncology & Consultant Medical Oncologist at University of Surrey & Royal Surrey County Hospital, explored how virotherapy uses oncotropic and oncolytic viruses to find and destroy malignant cells in the body, offering a safer and gentler treatment that improves patients’ survival and quality of life.

New biomarkers and biopsy modalities were discussed in the identification of disease with Dr Frank McCaughan, Respiratory Consultant, Kings College Hospital, presenting how circulating DNA is being used as a biomarker of lung cancer followed by Professor Richard Morgan, Professor of Molecular Oncology, University of Bradford, who reviewed EN2 as a biomarker for prostate and bladder cancer and Mr Michael Douek, reader in surgery and consultant surgeon, King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, who considered SentiMAG a sentinal node biopsy device.

How to improve patient’s quality of life was addressed by Dr Jo Armes Doctor of Health Science, King's College London, who spoke about better management of cancer-related fatigue and evolution in the delivery of behavioural interventions whilst Professor Roma Maguire, Professor of Cancer Care at University of Surrey, presented how the eSMART study is using remote systems to monitor of chemotherapy related toxicity and improve symptom management for patients.

Developments in palliative care and new research findings were highlighted by Dr Fliss Murtagh, Consultant in Palliative Medicine and Dr Katherine Webber, Consultant in Supportive and Palliative Care at the Royal Surrey County Hospital.

Also explored were new forms of imaging Professor Ken Young of the National Coordinating Centre for the Physics of Mammography, Royal Surrey County Hospital & Visiting Professor of Medical Physics, University of Surrey explored new forms of research using X-rays to optimise breast cancer detection.

Rounding up the schedule, Professor Robert Brown of Imperial College London and Institute of Cancer Research, considered changing epigenomics and the regulation of gene expression throughout the cancer journey. Cancers are caused by changes in the genome, the epigenome, or both. Changes in the epigenome can switch on or off genes involved in cell growth or the immune response. These changes can lead to uncontrolled growth, a hallmark of cancer, or to a failure of the immune system to destroy tumors. Changes in the epigenome also can activate growth-promoting genes in stomach cancer, colon cancer and the most common type of kidney cancer. In some other cancers, changes in the epigenome silence genes that normally serve to keep cell growth in check. Understanding all the changes that turn a normal cell into a cancer cell will speed efforts to develop new and better ways of diagnosing, treating and preventing cancer. 

Professor Peter Parker, Deputy Director, King's Health Partners Integrated Cancer Care, closed the conference with the reflection that there was a lot of common ground in the collective organisations' research programmes as evidenced by the day's proceedings and that there were clear opportunities for interactions that should be encouraged to build on the established links and indeed develop new links to realise these opportunities.

Surrey Cancer Research Institute will be holding a seminar series throughout the year. For more details of this and next year’s conference see:

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