Greater Manchester Cancer Conference 2024

GMCC 2024 Audience

From the 14th – 15th May 2024, the Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance hosted the renowned Greater Manchester Cancer Conference, which brought together Manchester partners across the cancer continuum.


This year’s theme ‘Empowerment in Practice: Communities, Professionals and Researchers’ navigated recent developments in cancer research and care, and shared learnings on the latest priorities and some promising new innovations.


This event, hosted at The Hilton Deansgate, showcased how Manchester empowers patients, public, researchers and healthcare professionals in cancer care, treatment and research and boasted a great mixture of researcher and patient stories.


In this blog we explore the two days of the conference, navigating the theme of empowerment, focussing on stand out sessions from some of our Manchester speakers.

The GM Cancer Conference was a great opportunity to see across the whole cancer community and build some exciting links with new partners and organisations to ensure that out work going forwards reflects the community in which we work.

Simon Reeds

Outreach and EDI Manager

Day One: Tuesday 14th May 2024 


Following a warm welcome and the consumption of numerous coffees and pastries (for those who were lucky to grab one before they all disappeared), members of the audience made their ways to the conference room.

Well known host of ‘You, Me and the Big C’, Steve Bland, opened the conference, giving a welcoming introduction and overview of what to expect over the next couple of days.

Empowering our system through collaboration

Successes in Cancer Team Science – Professor Robert Bristow


Our Director, Prof. Rob Bristow, addressed the MCRC’s approach to ‘Team Science’, including how we are integrating a cancer genomics approach to our research and our goal of ‘Cancer precision for all’.


Key take home messages:


  • Greater Manchester has a high percentage of its population from an ethnic minority group, while most global genomic research involves white Caucasian populations
  • In Manchester, we are driving genomic sequencing research projects to understand genetic and tumour biology differences between different ethnic populations
  • Using this data, the MCRC hopes that new clinical trials and screening strategies can be developed to ensure access to advanced and novel therapies and detect cancers sooner in at-risk populations
Professor Robert Bristow presenting during Greater Manchester Cancer Conference 2024.

Our Director, Professor Robert Bristow presenting at Greater Manchester Cancer Conference 2024. Credit: GM Cancer

Empowering our communities through innovation

Genomics – Dr Natalie Cook


Dr Natalie Cook discussed the latest innovations in genomics research, including establishing the National Genomics Medicine Service to ensure equitable access to genetic testing and improving education in genomics amongst patients and the public.


Key take home messages:


  • Dr Cook and her team are identifying predisposition genetic markers that can cause health problems such as cancers
  • They are using an individual’s genomic profile to match them to suitable treatment options and novel clinical trials as well as assessing if a profile can predict susceptibility to side-effects of treatments
  • They established the National Genomics Medicine Service to ensure the equitable access to genetic testing across the whole of England


The BCAN-RAY study: Breast Cancer Risk Assessment in Young Women – Dr Sacha Howell


Dr Sacha Howell continued with the theme of empowering our communities, discussing the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment in Younger Women (BCAN_RAY) project. This project was launched in memory of Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding and is looking to identify young women who might be at increased risk of breast cancer.


Key take home messages:


  • Breast cancer is the most common cause of death in women aged 35-64 years, but the UK’s national breast screening programme does not begin until aged 50
  • We can identify 23% of breast cancers within this age group through comprehensive risk prediction
  • This study aims to determine if mammographic density is a relevant risk factor in this age group and determine whether this is an acceptable approach to risk assess a population that can be rolled out nationwide
Dr Sacha Howell and Dr Natalie Cook presenting at the panel discussion during Greater Manchester Cancer Conference 2024.

Dr Sacha Howell and Dr Natalie Cook presenting at Greater Manchester Cancer Conference 2024. Credit: GM Cancer

Empowering our people through education  

How Greater Manchester can be a global player in improving cancer outcomes – Professor Richard Cowan and Rachel Chown


Our Training and Education Lead, Rachel Chown, spoke alongside Professor Richard Cowan, Director of The Christie School of Oncology about ‘How Greater Manchester can be a global player in improving cancer outcomes.’


Key take home messages:


  • You must understand the local context of where you are working; you can’t just “lift and shift” techniques
  • You need to consider a partnership’s sustainability before you make any form of promises or agreements
  • It is essential to listen and adapt to the needs of your partners
This was another fantastic showing at the GM Cancer Conference from a range of patients and stakeholders from across the city. I was thrilled to deliver a talk on our global health efforts at The Christie and MCRC as well as attending some fantastic talks and workshops. I particularly enjoyed the session on how we can improve outcomes for older patients with frailty and cancer in Greater Manchester, and the extremely moving keynote by Nicola Nuttall 'Doing it for Laura'. It was wonderful to network with colleagues old and new, and to celebrate all the work that Manchester is doing both here and further afield. This is such a highlight of my conference calendar and I'm already looking forward to the next event in 2025.

Rachel Chown

Education and Development Lead, MCRC

Doing it for Laura: ‘They know what I have but they don’t know who I am.’


Nicola Nuttall presenting at GMCC


Nicola Nuttall, mother of Laura Nuttall brought day one of the conference to a close. Nicola shared the inspiring story of her daughter who was diagnosed with Stage 4 Glioblastoma in 2018 and sadly passed away from the disease in 2023. She told the story of Laura’s infamous ‘bucket list’, including her meeting with Michelle Obama and presenting the BBC weather before her death in 2023.

There was not a dry eye in the house – and I mean that. It is stories like this that really reground you and remind you of why you work in cancer research. Nicola showed a strength unknown to many where she discussed the loss of her heroic daughter, and the persistence she had in fighting her disease. She told of her daughter’s will to live, the search for better treatment options and the way in which she so gracefully battled her disease. For me, this was everything that this conference is about. Bringing patient stories to the forefront, empowering our patients and addressing areas of unmet need in research. This story will live with me forever. What an inspiring young woman who has left behind an impenetrable legacy.

Sally Best

Science Content Creator and Communications Officer

Day Two: Wednesday 15th May



Empowering our system through digital transformation 

ePROMS and Rapid Radiotherapy –  Dr Gareth Price and Professor Corinne Faivre-Finn


Dr Gareth Price discussed ‘RAPID-RT: Using real world data to prospectively evaluate heart sparing thoracic radiotherapy’ and how we can find out the best way to treat patients.


Key take home messages:


  • Lack of representation in clinical trials creates an uncertainty in clinical decision making
  • RAPID-RT used a ‘citizens’ jury’ so patients and the public could choose how real-world patient data would be routinely collected
  • This ‘heart sparing’ technique was introduced by The Christie in 2023 and researchers are hoping to have accrued enough data by summer 2024 to assess if this approach significantly improves survival of radiotherapy patients


Professor Corinne Faivre-Finn talked about ‘Integrating Electronic Patient Recorded Outcome Measures (ePROMs) into cancer treatment.


Key take home messages:


  • ePROMs are online questionnaires designed to capture a patient’s reported health status during treatment
  • Corinne noted that over 50,000 ePROMs have now been collected, and have been shown to reduce a patient’s risk of death by 68%
  • She described them as ‘a very powerful tool that gives patients a voice’ and that they can be applicable for use in many clinical settings
Panel discussion during Greater Manchester Cancer Conference 2024.

Empowering our system through digital transformation panel discussion featuring Professor Corinne Faivre-Finn (middle left) and Dr Gareth Price (middle right). Credit: GM Cancer

Empowering people to live well

Breast Screening after Radiotherapy Dataset (BARD) – optimising the outcomes of women at high risk of breast cancer following treatment for a first cancer – Professor John Radford


Professor John Radford discussed BARD, a national database that helps identify women at a high risk of developing breast cancer after receiving radiotherapy. It also works to refer these at-risk women to appropriate screening.


Key take home messages:


  • Patients cured of a first cancer are often at an increased risk of developing a second primary cancer
  • BARD is a confidential database of women in England who have received radiotherapy involving breast tissue when aged between 10 to 35 years
  • It was set up to ensure all patients at increased risk of breast cancer following their radiotherapy treatment are offered appropriate breast screening and aims to improve long term outcomes in this patient population

GMCC Awards 


Steve Bland presenting awards at GMCC


Returning for a second year, on the 14th May, the Greater Manchester Cancer Awards celebrated the projects, healthcare staff, academics, community workers who have helped improve the lives of people affected by cancer across Manchester.

Congratulations to all winners across the eight categories with a particular shout out to the following winners:

  • Team Science – Winner – Manchester’s PMP Accelerator Team led by Prof. Omer Aziz
  • Early Career Researcher Award – Winner – Dr Alicia-Marie Conway
  • Educational Impact Award – Winner – Cancer and Us Community Conversations, involving members of the Manchester BRC and National Biomarker Centre.

Congratulations to the teams involved in the following projects which were highly commended within their respective categories:

  • Commitment to Equality – Highly Commended – RAPID-RT
  • Team Science Award – Highly Commended – BRAINatomy

You can read more about all the award winners on the GM Cancer website.




After two days of Greater Manchester Cancer Conference, we showed that we do things differently in Manchester!

We empower our patients and workforce to understand patient needs. We deliver impactful life changing research. And our innovations set world standards in cancer.

We were delighted to be part of this conference and cannot wait to see what the next one brings.


All photos used throughout reproduced with permission from the Greater Manchester Cancer Team. The full gallery is available to view on the GM Cancer website.

Greater Manchester Cancer Website

Visit the Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance website to learn more about the work of the alliance.

Greater Manchester Cancer Conference

Discover more about the GM Cancer Conference.