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Researchers from our Cancer Theme recently attended this year's Cancer Research UK Early Diagnosis Conference in Birmingham, which focused on the theme 'Driving Evidence into Practice'. Here, Brian Nicholson, lead of our Cancer Theme, shares highlights from the event.

A researcher stands on stage along with a seated panel, in front of a projected presentation.

A pride of Cancer Theme researchers came together at this year’s Cancer Research UK Early Diagnosis Conference 'Driving Evidence into Practice' in Birmingham from June 4-5 2024. The foremost conference for our line of work, focusing on how to implement innovations for early diagnosis effectively and equitably, the conference was a long overdue catch-up for the community with many new faces in attendance since the last meeting from both academia and industry. There was a strong UK-wide presence with opening addresses from high-level representatives of the cancer programmes of all four nations of the United Kingdom, despite the pre-election period. During the conference the NDPCHS Cancer Theme team gave four oral presentations, presented seven posters, conducted two workshops, and chaired plenary sessions. Here are some highlights:

Special congratulations should be extended to Andres Tamm for being awarded an early career researcher bursary and for delivering a stunning presentation called “It is hard to beat FIT” showcasing his innovation and aptitude in data science applied to colorectal cancer diagnosis, and to Ashley Jackson who came runner-up in the poster competition for outlining the potential benefits of incorporating novel Multi-Cancer Early Detection testing into cancer pathways for patients with symptoms.

At a time when the community is grappling with how to understand and prevent inequalities in cancer outcomes, Oxford’s team delivered workshops on four key considerations when implementing innovations to equitably improve cancer detection with Anna Dowrick showcasing her recently published implementation manifesto. Tanvi Rai illuminated structural issues created by data driven approaches to the assignment of ethnicity in research. With our long-time collaborator from Queen Mary’s University London, Dr Georgia Black, we examined how to optimise the delivery of non-specific symptoms pathways, the NHS system innovation now central to reducing delays in diagnosis, building on Oxford's contribution to early pilot work developing the Suspected CANcer (SCAN) pathway.

I had the great pleasure of chairing the first plenary session on improving understanding of risk associated with clinical features in primary care. Our very own Dr Pradeep Virdee demonstrated innovation in risk profiling showing us the additional value of incorporating blood test trend into decisions to refer patients with unexpected weight loss for cancer investigation. Then leading the panel session in which Pradeep navigated tricky questions about how to move from research to practice with peers from other leading UK centres of early diagnosis research.

The Cancer Theme has grown remarkably in recent years and the fantastic feedback received about the Oxford contingent from delegates and friends is testament to our hard work, collective character and cohesion. (It was nice to have some company at the dinner too!).

Opinions expressed are those of the author/s and not of the University of Oxford. Readers' comments will be moderated - see our guidelines for further information.


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