UK-US alliance launched to boost early cancer detection

21 October 2019 (Last Updated December 23rd, 2019 10:21)

An international alliance comprising UK and US scientists has been launched with more than £55m in financial support to develop strategies and technologies to boost the detection of cancers at the early stage.

UK-US alliance launched to boost early cancer detection
Micrograph showing a lymph node invaded by ductal breast carcinoma. Credit: Nephron

An international alliance comprising UK and US scientists has been launched with more than £55m in financial support to develop strategies and technologies to boost the detection of cancers at the early stage.

The International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED) is a partnership between Cancer Research UK, Canary Center at Stanford University, the University of Cambridge, the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, UCL and the University of Manchester.

Researchers believe that advancements in technologies will help to diagnose cancers at an early stage.

UK statistics indicate that five-year survival for six kinds of cancer is more than three times higher if these are diagnosed at the first stage, as the tumour tends to be small and localised, as opposed to stage four when the tumour tends to be larger and would have spread to surrounding tissues.

Of the £55m funding, Cancer Research UK will provide £40m over the next five years, while Stanford University and the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute will each give $10m.

The alliance aims to work on research areas to improve imaging technology and robotics, which would help in identifying pre-cancerous cells and early tumours.

It will also look to develop less invasive and more simplistic detection techniques such as blood, breath and urine tests to identify patients at higher risk of certain cancers.

It will leverage the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) to identify signs of cancer that otherwise go undetected.

Cancer Research chief executive for UK Michelle Mitchell said: “Now is the time to be ambitious and develop effective new ways to detect cancer earlier. It’s an area of research where we have the potential to completely change the future of cancer treatment, turning it into a manageable and beatable disease for more people.”

“Real progress in early detection can’t be achieved by a single organisation. Benefits for patients will only be realised if early cancer detection leaders from around the world come together. No more siloes, no more missed opportunities; let us tackle this problem together and beat cancer.”