A March was among those attending a special event in Cambridge on Thursday which saw the city’s Addenbrooke’s Hospital get the stamp of approval by a prestigious European cancer body.
Peter Andrews, a youth worker from March, attended the event which saw the Cambridge Cancer Centre, partnership of Cambridge University Hospitals, the University of Cambridge and Cancer Research UK and others, accredited by the Organisation of European Cancer Institutes (OECI) as a comprehensive cancer centre.
The status recognises specialist cancer centres that can offer the combination of world-class research, a wide range of ground-breaking treatments, the highest educational standards, and a clinical service with good outcomes for patients.
Mr Andrews has been receiving treatment at the centre since February last year for pre-cancerous cells in his oesophagus caused by acid reflux.
He had been receiving treatment for the reflux - a serious form of heartburn, for a number of years and undergoing regular testing after developing Barrett’s Oesophagus a condition where the lining of the oesophagus thickens as a result of the gastric reflux.
Mr Andrews was referred to Addenbrooke’s from Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Huntingdon, when tests showed some of the cells in the oesophagus were pre-cancerous.
“I had been having regular monitoring at Huntingdon for about seven or eight years when a biopsy taken during endoscopy (a camera fed down the oesophagus) showed some of the cells were pre-cancerous, which can be a common occurrence with gastric reflux.
“At Addenbrooke’s I was offered the chance to take part in a new trial monitoring and I was happy to try it. Instead of having an endoscopy the trial involves me swallowing a tablet the same size as a normal paracetamol.
“It is gel coated and has a string attached. I have to hold on to the string when I swallow the tablet, which when the gel coating dissolves becomes a sponge. The sponge is pulled out via the string and brings up cell samples with it. It is less invasive than an endoscope and is much more preferable. It is just one of a number of pioneering techniques and treatments being carried out at Addenbrooke’s, which is what makes it such a special hospital,” said Mr Andrews, who is expected to make a 100 per cent recovery when he has an operation to remove the problem cells in the next few weeks.
Professor Patrick Maxwell, Chair of the Centre and Head of the University of Cambridge Clinical School, and Professor Sir Bruce Ponder, Director of the Centre, received the certificate from the OECI president Prof Wim van Harten at Thursday’s special event which showcased some of the research programmes in Cambridge which are changing the face of cancer treatment globally.
Other cutting-edge work apart from the early warning system for oesophageal cancer undertaken by Cambridge Cancer Centre clinician scientists includes a landmark study mapping out the different types of breast cancer and DNA sequencing of sub groups of prostate cancer to target treatment to the individual and therefore improve survival rates.
Professor Sir Bruce Ponder, Director of the Cambridge Cancer Centre, said: “To be awarded this status is recognition of the hard work and collaboration between the University, Cancer Research UK and Addenbrooke’s over the last six years since the centre was established. We are bringing Cambridge science to bear on the practical problems of cancer. Closer interaction between the clinic and the lab will be the foundation for our future progress and for better outcomes for patients.”
Harpal S Kumar, CEO of Cancer Research UK, said: “The Cambridge Cancer Centre’s accreditation by the OECI recognises Cambridge’s outstanding track record in cancer research. The city is hugely important to Cancer Research UK, receiving our largest investment in a single location, outside of London. This supports a range of exceptional research across a number of fields and a number of types of cancer, which is helping to improve survival for patients in Cambridge and across the world. It is a very exciting time for Cancer Research UK and the Cambridge Cancer Centre .”