On Cancer Westminster Launch
To mark the launch of our recent On Cancer document, created by the teams in the MCRC, Policy@Manchester and The University of Manchester Cancer Beacon, on 3 March 2022 several members of our team attended an in person event organised by Policy@Manchester in Westminster to spotlight the policy recommendations that if implemented could improve the lives of patients impacted by cancer.
The event was chaired by our Director, Professor Robert Bristow, with an expert panel comprising Dr Dónal Landers, Professor Ananya Choudhury and H.E. Manoah Esipisu. The panel discussion navigated the ‘One Manchester’ cancer landscape, spotlighting evidence on which to base future policy implementations. Topics discussed included utilising patient data, radiotherapy, global partnerships, equality diversity and inclusion and early detection, along with many more.
The panel discussion was then followed by a series of audience question and answers.
Church House, Westminster
I hope that with the ten-year plan for the war on cancer, there are going to be specific solutions that are being driven by Manchester and that are reflecting what you have in [On Cancer] for policy makers.
Professor Robert Bristow
Professor Robert Bristow, Director of the MCRC
Leading on the panel discussion, Rob focused on the unique position of Manchester’s cancer research in being able to utilise complex populations that require thoughtful processes of engagement, screening, treatment and aftercare. He highlighted that these diverse communities contributed to understanding the diaspora across the UK.
Rob also highlighted the progress in Manchester to work towards equitable healthcare for all. He referenced Mobile Prevention Early Detection units (MOPEDs) that had been used in studies such as the ‘Lung Health Check’ whereby CT scanners were placed in underserved populations across Greater Manchester. This study showed a reduction in stage 3 – 4 lung cancers to stage 1-2 by 75%, thus acting as an exemplar for the importance of early detection and community engagement.
He asked that policy makers used evidence from Manchester exemplars such as these to inform their future policy implementations and improve the lives of those living with and after cancer.
If we're going to use [AI] we [need to] apply it ethically, and I think that's where we need policies, where we need help and we also want to be able to collaborate as well.
Dr Dónal Landers
Dr Dónal Landers, Director of the digital Experimental Cancer Medicine Team
As Director of the digital Experimental Cancer Medicine Team (dECMT), Dónal’s panel discussion focused on data, and the importance of interacting with patients about how they would like their data to be used. He explained the role of the dECMT to transform clinical decision making through establishing decision support systems to empower patients and deliver better patient outcomes.
A main theme of this panel discussion was centred around ‘ethical AI’ which fulfils the fundamental medical principles of consent: beneficence, maleficence and justice. Dónal expressed the importance of keeping ethics at the forefront of everything we do, particularly when it comes to AI.
Dónal requested guidance from policy makers around ethical AI, when it is appropriate to use it, how to use it, how to test it and how to involve patients. He also noted that we required guidance on how to engage with the NHS on looking at these care pathways.
I think it's important for us to remember that radiotherapy is part of treatment in over 50% of cancer patients. To get these technologies to the patients that actually need them, we need government, policy [and] funding working together to make sure we do the best with what we have.
Professor Ananya Choudhury
Professor Ananya Choudhury, Chair and Honorary Consultant in Clinical Oncology at The Christie and The University of Manchester
The Proton Beam Therapy (PBT) Centre at The Christie in Manchester was the first NHS site in the UK to provide radiotherapy using high energy protons to the public. It is also home to the MR-LINAC which is a new radiotherapy technology that combines combines an MRI scanner and linear accelerator and performs MRI scans during treatment.
In her portion of the panel discussion, Ananya highlighted the greater expense, higher levels of expertise and vast workforce of skilled professionals that such treatment options require. She focused on the work that needs to be done to ensure that these technologies are used in a cost effective way that means they are more accessible to populations here but across the world.
Ananya called for policy makers to look at how these treatments are funded, and for the formation of partnerships across the NHS, academic institutions and charities with the government.
If you ask 'Why Manchester?', [it's] because they are the best that are on the table in terms of their commitment, their facilities, their approach to [partnerships] and [their] enthusiasm. Our President loves The University of Manchester and [The] Christie. Why? Because they give him the belief they can do what they're saying they will do.
H.E. Manoah Esipisu
H.E. Manoah Esipisu, Kenya’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
To understand the characteristics of all members of our patient populations, we can reach out to our global partners who have experience in the genomics of different populations. We can also help such partners in the development of their healthcare systems and increase their capacity for the study of cancers.
H.E. Manoah Esipisu focused his panel discussion on the partnership that The University of Manchester have developed with Kenya. He noted the lack of specialised nurses and doctors in Kenya, and thus the vast expenditure that goes out to other countries for healthcare professionals. He explained that between £100 and £250 million is sent to India from Kenya each year to support shortfalls in the Kenyan healthcare system.
His Excellency explained that through partnerships such as the one with The University of Manchester, expertise could be shared to streamline their current healthcare system and increase the specialised workforce. As such, he explained the importance of partnerships such as this not only for genomic understanding in the UK, but also the strengthening of workforces overseas.