Members of the Primary Care Cancer Group made a valuable contribution to CRUK’s Cambridge Centre Early Detection Programme summer school, held in Cambridge in July 2019. Dr Fiona Walter presented on the use of cancer diagnostics in primary care while Dr Valerie Sills was Scrum Master for the winning team in the ‘Envisioning New Diagnostics’ group activity.
Held at Robinson College, the ‘Discovery and Development of Diagnostics for Early Detection of Cancer’ School was the first of its kind to bring together delegates from academic, corporate, clinical and public sector backgrounds interested in exploring the rapidly expanding and exciting field of early cancer detection. The recent selection of the Early Detection Programme as one of the UK members of the International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED, previously known as ICED) enabled the School to be funded.
The summer school was organised into six different sessions across three and a half days:
- Introduction to Early Detection of Cancer
- Science and Technology of Diagnostics
- Case Studies for Science/Technology of Diagnostics
- Regulation and Evidence Review
- Clinical Trials and Implementation
- Societal Impacts of Early Detection of Cancer.
Within each session, three to four speakers presented. Dr Fiona Walter, Head of Cancer Group, was a speaker in the Clinical Trials and Implementation session and, in ‘Cancer Diagnostics in Primary Care’ she highlighted the challenges facing GPs in diagnosing cancer early, introduced the audience to the CanTest framework for evaluation and implementation of novel diagnostics, and gave an overview of CanTest and its aims and research.
A unique aspect of the summer school was a group activity ‘Envisioning New Diagnostics’ which involved all participants. Delegates were divided into five groups of 12 each led by a Scrum Master, with the aim of developing a product plan for a novel cancer diagnostic device. Dr Valerie Sills, the CanTest Cambridge Programme Manager, was Scrum Master for Team Darwin, whose focus was early detection of glioblastoma. The activity was devised by Dr Carl Yamashiro and Mara Aspinall of Arizona State University College of Health Solutions (ASU), in conjunction with Early Detection Programme Manager, Wendy Alderton.
The five groups each worked hard to develop a product plan for their target diagnostic. They addressed factors such as market need, intellectual property, regulatory requirements, the competitive environment and marketing of the product. On the final afternoon, each team gave a 7-minute presentation of their device and marketing plan, followed by questions from the audience including the expert speakers. The Senior Faculty judged that all teams showed an impressive understanding of the issues and presented innovative ideas, but in the event Team Darwin were judged to have presented the most compelling case for their novel diagnostic company – BrainBox Diagnostix.
Overall, the feedback gathered from the delegates was extremely positive, both on the quality of teaching and on the interaction opportunities it provided. All the delegates said that they would recommend the school to a friend or colleague. Delegates also gave a number of suggestions for topics that they would like to see covered or expanded upon in the future, giving plenty of scope for a repeat Early Detection Summer School in 2021.
For more information see www.earlydetectioncambridge.org.uk.