Surgery & Cancer

This theme aims to improve cancer outcomes by diagnosing cancers earlier and improving treatments once a diagnosis is made.

Why this Research is Needed

Over 350,000 people are diagnosed with cancer annually in the UK, almost half with incurable, late-stage disease. Cancer is one of the UK’s leading causes of death and our cancer survival rates remain lower than many European countries. Our theme will improve cancer outcomes through patient-focused research, with an emphasis on the most common cancers in north west London: breast, urological (especially prostate and bladder), gastrointestinal (including liver and pancreas), haematological and gynaecological.

Theme Aims

Our specific aims are to:

  1. Improve patient pathways through studies that will allow early diagnosis of cancer, including studies of digital tools, including artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms.
  2. Introduce novel technologies and treatments that expand our longstanding convergence-science approach to enhance precision-medicine in cancer.

Detailed objectives can be downloaded here 

Upcoming /Ongoing Projects within the Theme

Early diagnosis: Our innovative use of information collected on high street retailers’ loyalty cards is reducing delays in ovarian cancer diagnosis by identifying changes in purchasing behaviour in the months prior to diagnosis. We will work with a wide range of high street retailers and utilise our links with Google Health/Deep Mind as well as Imperial’s AI/machine-learning expertise to develop pipelines that generate early warnings for cardholders to seek medical advice.

Precision management: We will leverage the pioneering ATLANTA trial to improve therapy for advanced prostate cancer, comparing novel localised treatments (focused high-energy ultrasound, robotic surgery, stereotactic ablative radiotherapy) with current standards of care.

Evolution and adaptation: Our application of circulating biomarkers, including personalised circulating tumour (ct) DNA sequencing, allows early detection of therapy resistance in breast and ovarian cancers. We will develop clinical trials to evaluate therapy change using ctDNA analysis in ovarian, breast and colorectal cancers.

Pilot Projects

Following an open call in the summer of 2023 the following pilot projects were funded from the Theme:

  • Investigating Ways to Increase Uptake of Lung Cancer Screening in West London – Dr Gaby Judah
  • Vascular Pathways of Spread and the Host Immune Environment in Rectal Cancer – Dr Gina Brown and Michelle Fong
  • Augmented Therapies for Oesophageal Cancer with iSlice – Dr Stefan Antonowicz
  • Contrast-Enhanced Imaging & Chemical Sensing for Precision Breast Conserving Surgery – Dr Naomi Laskar
Patient and Public Involvement, Engagement and Participation

Patients treated at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust are ethnically diverse, and up to 40% do not speak English as their first language. We seek to ensure that our research reflects this diversity by engaging with specific groups within our communities. We instigated a survey to capture the primary concerns of our population and have established a Patient and Public Involvement, Engagement and Participation (PPIEP) panel. We have representatives on our theme management group to appraise our overall research approach and we have specific PPIEP involvement in each project. We will hold regular talks and events to build relationships between our researchers and the community.

Our Community Partners

In accordance with the Imperial BRC’s PPIEP Strategy , our theme has recruited a group of Community Partners to act as critical friends to our theme and share their valuable lived experience with our researchers and health professionals to help improve the relevance and quality of our research for the benefit of our North West London population.

Chris Gentle
Chris Gentle

“I live in the Borough of Ealing and am very interested in cancer research having had many friends (and myself) diagnosed with different forms.” Chris Gentle

Peter Goulding Photograph
Peter Goulding

Lived-in experience residing and working in North West London, aspiring to help the Imperial team manage complex research challenges to improve cancer and surgery services for the NWL community.

Raxa Popat
Raxa Popat

Raxa Popat brings her experience in biomedical sciences and secondary education, along with a passion for equity in research to her role as lay/patient representative on BRC panel.

Savita Panchani
Savita Panchani

“I’m just someone who cares a lot about making a positive impact in the world around me” Savita Panchani
Key Individuals
  • Professor Amanda Cross
    Professor Amanda Cross
    Professor in Cancer Epidemiology - Co-Theme Lead
  • Professor Iain McNeish
    Professor Iain McNeish
    Professor of Oncology and Head of Division of Cancer - Co-Theme Lead
  • Dr Alicia Heath
    Dr Alicia Heath
    Lecturer in Cancer Epidemiology - Theme Committee Member
  • Dr David Pinato
    Dr David Pinato
    Clinical Senior Lecturer in Medical Oncology
  • Dr Laura Kenny
    Dr Laura Kenny
    Clinical Senior Lecturer in Medical Oncology - Theme Committee Member
  • Kelly Gleason
    Kelly Gleason
    CRUK Lead Nurse/Nurse Consultant
  • Mr Daniel Leff
    Mr Daniel Leff
    Reader in Breast Surgery - Theme Committee Member
  • Prof Christina Fotopoulou
    Prof Christina Fotopoulou
    Consultant gynaecological oncologist
  • Prof Maria Kyrgiou
    Prof Maria Kyrgiou
    Clinical Professor of Gynaecological Oncology
  • Prof Mary Wells
    Prof Mary Wells
    Professor and Lead for Nursing and Midwifery - Theme Committee Member
  • Professor Anastasios Karadimitris
    Professor Anastasios Karadimitris
    Professor of Haematology - Theme Committee Member
  • Professor Andrea Rockall
    Professor Andrea Rockall
    Consultant Radiologist
  • Professor Charlotte Bevan
    Professor Charlotte Bevan
    Professor of Cancer Biology
  • Professor Cristina Lo Celso
    Professor Cristina Lo Celso
    Prof Stem Cell Biology
  • Professor Eric Aboagye
    Professor Eric Aboagye
  • Professor Gina Brown
    Professor Gina Brown
    Professor of Gastrointestinal Cancer Imaging
  • Professor Guido Franzoso
    Professor Guido Franzoso
    Chair in Inflammation and Signal Transduction
  • Professor Sadaf Ghaem-Maghami
    Professor Sadaf Ghaem-Maghami
    Professor of Gynaecological Oncology
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