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Cancer Research Awareness

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Blog 5 – Some ideas of sorts taken from a recent cancer research conference I attended. Most of the lectures were above me in some aspects; however it gave me some awareness of the mass complexity of cancer and other diseases of that matter. This is all strictly opinion based on very limited knowledge.

The first lecture discussed the National Cancer Research Network (http://www.ncrn.org.uk/). I’ll be honest; I do not have a clue what this is and really what the lecture actually discussed/meant in research terms. The key focus however was based on getting patients on clinical trials. Which I would like to think is what patients want and want should happen... However issues such as funding came up.

What I also couldn’t understand is why trials on cancer are not nationally shared anyway because of the sheer devastation cancer causes. But you could apply this to all areas of research that could clinically benefit people. I suppose my train of thought related it to how at university there’s only a select number of journals you can access, instead of having them all available to benefit science and the world (but of course MONEY seems to take presidency over research and human benefit).

So for a lecture I didn’t understand, I was rather moved and interested.

The second was titled Survivorship – Evaluating Strategies for Aftercare. This is something that I was particular interested in. The lecture made me think about a few things... One of the questions raised in the lecture was when does someone stop having cancer? Is it really when the cancer has been irradiated or is there more to it?

Other ideas around aftercare were the use of telephone calls. At first I found it a bit hard to understand because surely a telephone call does not consider the social and mental effects cancer can have on a person. However the lecturer concluded that in the end it should be PATIENT CHOICE that dictates aftercare not any specific strategy (e.g. coming into hospital, visits by nurses etc). This makes sense, although I was a bit worried that patients who say they are fine may not be. In this case, phone calls wouldn’t be appropriate would they?Other ideas I had were the use of other professionals like counsellors or psychologists to be involved in after care.

I have no idea really about cancer, let alone aftercare in cancer patients but HOLISTIC NEEDS of a person should always be considered especially in this type of research.

The third lecture discussed statistics relating to lung cancer mortality in Lancashire cotton mill workers. Now, statistics mean nothing to me, what do they conclude? So getting my head around research based on stats was like diving into the void. It didn’t happen... But it did make me think. This cohort of people had been tracked via paperwork; how old they are, what illness/disease they have, how each individual would of varied etc. A lot of digging around just for numbers...

The forth lecture discussed working with gliomas. I didn’t know what a glioma was before this lecture so I was off to great start. On reflecting now it was very interesting on the research side of things. Consider the size of the glioma, how much of a sample to cut off, the use of homogenised cancer tissue, what drugs and how should the glioma be tested, people using the gliomas (training?) and communication between scientists and clinicians. Again some of these ideas discussed brought in economics; a recurring factor in research.

It was interesting to see that communication was a key point here; it’s probably why I enjoyed this conference (even if it was complicated). It was fantastic to see different scientists and clinicians networking and discussing each other’s work with something as vast as cancer and having seen the books in the library on it in my opinion there is no way without MULTI- DISCIPLINARY TEAMWORK will cancer itself ever be ‘completely curable’.

The next lecture was on digital imaging... Ideas resolved around observing cancer growth, treating cancer (radiotherapy) using images taken on that day, using gold pins to highlight the cancer making it easier for surgeons to see and predicting growth before/after treatment. Very interesting lecture that sadly got cut short... However the idea of tailoring treatment to patient needs (physiological changes) through imaging techniques was the main idea.

The last lecture was about public health. A stat was raised – ‘23% of people diagnosed with cancer, is due to a medical emergency’. I cannot find the source of this percentage but let’s consider it... 23%. That’s almost a quarter... If this is true there is a clear need to PROVIDE EARLY DIAGNOSIS and spot signs of cancer. I do not know the early symptoms of cancer. I do not know if they can be seen effectively. But people must be made aware that cancer is a disease that is real. This may include advertising and marketing campaigns.

Conclusions: A lengthy blog and I could write in a lot more detail. But at the moment, it’s all food for thought. It is clear to see, research plays an active role in clinical effectiveness – therefore research and academia should never be dismissed or hidden. An extremely thought provocative conference.

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