Cancer research

16 June 2014

Article by Victoria Paris, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

Image from PixaBay.  Licensed under the Creative Commons

Image from PixaBay. Licensed under the Creative Commons

It is estimated that around 1 in 3 people in Wales will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 75.   An average of around 8,400 people died from cancer each year in Wales between 1995 and 2011, although there has been a falling trend over the past fifteen years, with rates falling on average by around 1 per cent each year.The Welsh Government is committed to minimising the risk of developing cancer and, where it does occur, that the Welsh population have an excellent chance of survival. In 2012 the Welsh Government published the Together for Health – A Cancer Delivery Plan.

This Plan provides a framework for action by Local Health Boards and NHS Trusts on the outcomes that they deliver for their populations and their contribution to the overall health of the people of Wales. The Plan sets out actions to improve outcomes in key areas between now and 2016. The Plan also outlines NHS performance measures which have been developed to measure how successful cancer detection, treatment, and care are for people in Wales. One of the performance measures included in the Plan is that 20 per cent of people diagnosed with cancer will consent to donate samples to the Wales Cancer Bank.

The Wales Cancer Bank is funded by the Welsh Government’s National Institute for Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR), Cancer Research Wales and Velindre NHS Trust and is based in Cardiff University but has a pan Wales remit to collect a population based sample collection.

The Wales Cancer Bank collects tumour, normal tissue and blood samples from patients where cancer is a possible diagnosis. These samples are used to build up a research resource that will be used by research groups to help understand the molecular mechanisms involved in cancer and work towards the selection of the appropriate treatment for individuals.

Cancer researchers from around the world, in academia, biotech companies and the pharmaceutical industry apply to the Wales Cancer Bank to access samples. All samples are supplied anonymised, with a basic data set of age at operation, gender and diagnosis.

The number of people consenting to donate to the Wales Cancer Bank has been steadily increasing year on year, with more hospitals taking part in the recruitment. In 2012 the level of consent to donation was over 10 per cent.

On 19 June 2014 the Wales Cancer Bank will be holding an event to mark ten years since the then Health Minister, Jane Hutt, officially launched the project. Further information on the Wales Cancer Bank and its ten year anniversary event can be found on its website.