The interventional science theme aims to make a real impact on the patient experience of cancer care. From their diagnosis to their treatment and discharge, patients live through an intense journey carrying a great psychological, emotional and physical burden. We must also think about the healthcare workers: how they are trained, how they work, and their positioning toward new technologies, methodologies and practice. Our innovations must be designed and developed by taking in account the experience of the people who will be using them.  

 

 


Patient journey

 

 

 

Breath test to diagnose oesophageal and gastric cancer. Lady breathing into bad - the bag is then placed in a box connected to a laptop which analyses the patient’s breath

Technology development for prevention and early detection

 

The chances of survival for a patient with cancer are substantially improved if the disease is diagnosed and treated at an early stage, especially if aiming to achieve a complete cure. To improve the early detection of cancers, we have two main areas of focus: cancer metabolism biomarkers and the development of ultrasensitive detection technologies. Early detection efforts will focus on using risk-stratified populations to investigate the potential of biomarkers. We will harness technological innovation by developing ultrasensitive low-cost devices to detect specific early disease signals, supported by clinical positioning and adoption strategies. The NHS Long Term Plan has expanded their ambitious plan to see an extra 55,000 people each year surviving for five years or more following their cancer diagnosis and three in four cancers (75%) diagnosed at an early stage by 2028. In collaboration with our partner, we wish to contribute to reaching this goal by proposing innovative solutions to early cancer detection and earlier diagnosis.

 

 

 

Surgery, radiotherapy and novel interventions

 

Surgery remains the most important curative option for most cancers. We will develop techniques and technologies that improve surgical precision and advance surgical boundaries beyond the current standard of care. In radiotherapy, we will build on expertise across multiple tumour indications to drive innovations leading to treatments that can be delivered with increased precision, over shorter fractionation schedules and using functional image-guidance. Surgical and radiotherapy will be complemented by other interventional technologies. We will exploit novel approaches to determine the exact extent of the tumour, based on physical and metabolic characterisation and radiological/radiomic and molecular imaging, to permit precise removal of malignant tissue and preservation of uninvolved normal tissue.

We will also study the potential for directing intra-tumoural therapies to mediate both loco-regional and systemic effects, as stand-alone treatments and components of combination regimens.

Superintendent Radiographer putting patient into MRI machine

 

 

 

 

Doctor treating patient in ward

Towards continuous monitoring of treatment response

 

Despite the vast array of therapies to treat cancer, a significant limitation of current treatment approaches is the ability to understand how well a patient is responding to their treatment. Typically, a patient will undergo blood tests and routine imaging scans to determine whether their treatment is working. These currently have significant limitations in terms of cost, impact on patients’ lives, and efficacy – providing only an indication of the patient’s status at that snapshot in time, and measuring relatively crude tumour-specific markers in terms of underlying biological response. Key challenges for the clinician are to understand how well the therapy is working and how to make decisions to change or stop therapy. Novel methods are needed to understand mechanisms of action and resistance of treatment with innovative assays to be able to predict response and resistance to treatment at the point of diagnosis. The goal is to develop low-cost therapy monitoring technologies that provide a real-time readout of therapeutic response, which can be implemented in a healthcare setting to inform treatment decision making.