Dr Juliet Usher-Smith, an academic general practitioner from the Primary Care Unit (PCU) at the University of Cambridge, has been awarded a grant of almost £65,000 from Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer. The research will investigate whether people living in England should be invited to take part in the bowel cancer screening programme based on their genes and lifestyle factors, not just based on their age.
Research shows that the national bowel cancer screening programme can save lives. Currently adults living in England aged 60-74 and registered with a GP are sent a screening test in the post. However, other factors such as body weight, diet, family history and differences in genes also affect a person’s risk of bowel cancer. The new research will investigate whether this information could be incorporated into the screening programme so that people are invited to take part based on their overall risk, leading to earlier diagnosis for some and less unnecessary investigations for others.
Dr Usher-Smith will work with colleagues from the University of Cambridge, including Professor Simon Griffin, Dr Fiona Walter and Professor Antonis Antoniou from the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Mr Richard Miller, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and with researchers at Sheffield University.
This award is part of Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer’s investment of almost £450,000 to support research with the greatest benefits for those at risk and affected by the disease.
We are really grateful to Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer for funding this research. Inviting people for screening based on their risk rather than their age alone has the potential to improve the efficiency of screening. In this work we have brought together a team of researchers so that we can model the impact of introducing this approach within the national bowel cancer screening programme. We hope that this will inform changes to the programme in the future to reduce the number of deaths from bowel cancer.”
– Dr Juliet Usher-Smith, Clinical Senior Research Associate, Primary Care Unit
Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said: “We are delighted to invest in Dr Juliet Usher-Smith’s research. This important work will support our commitment to invest in high quality, innovative and creative solutions to help lead a step change in the number of people surviving bowel cancer.
“We’ve been at the forefront of campaigning for improvements for earlier diagnosis. Whilst there have been important steps forward, there are still many unanswered research questions, which if addressed could help accelerate our progress further and ultimately save more lives. Through strategic investment in targeted research, we aim to drive positive change for patients and help to deliver improvements in bowel cancer survival in our lifetime.”
Find out more
About the work of Dr Juliet Usher-Smith
About the Prevention Group at PCU
Contact: Lucy Lloyd, Communications lead, Primary Care Unit