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Cancer Network

NRS Cancer is supported by the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government to increase, support and sustain clinical trial activity in cancer care in partnership with the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC).

The fundamental aim of NRS Cancer is to support the recruitment of cancer patients into clinical research and so contribute to improving the quality of cancer care for patients across Scotland. This has been achieved by improving the supportive research infrastructure in NHS Cancer Services in Scotland. Key aims include:

  • Breadth of portfolio - Support recruitment to a range of trials, not just common cancers
  • Randomised Controlled Trial focus - Support recruitment to therapy trials
  • Translational research - Work in partnership with the Experimental Cancer Medicine Network (ECMC) or equivalent
  • Equity of access - facilitate access to clinical trials outside the main Cancer Centres.

NRS Cancer is led by Research Champion Professor David Cameron and is divided into regions: North, East, South East and West. Each region has a Clinical Lead and a Network Manager to support their regional trial portfolio and research teams. The clinical research supported by NRS Cancer is peer-reviewed, quality research that is included in the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) clinical trial portfolio or considered eligible by the Chief Scientist Office (CSO) in Scotland.

NRS Cancer - West

The hub of the NRS Cancer - West is the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials Unit (CRUK CTU) in the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre (BWoSCC). From here extends the network of clinical trials staff based in hospitals in each of the West of Scotland Cancer Network WoSCAN NHS Health Board areas – NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Forth Valley and NHS Lanarkshire. The research team support local recruitment to cancer clinical trials and so provide cancer patients with the opportunity to participate in cancer clinical trials at their local hospital.

Further information:

Karen Bell  

News highlights from the West node:

  • The Beatson Cancer Centre is featured in a three-part BBC1 series telling the stories of patients undergoing cancer treatment at the hospital.  The programme features some patients that are taking part in clinical trials at the Beatson.

NRS Cancer – South East

NRS Cancer - SE was one of the three Scottish Cancer Research Networks established in 2003 with the support from Cancer in Scotland, the Chief Scientist's Office and Information Services Division (ISD). NRS Cancer – SE covers NHS Borders, NHS Dumfries and Galloway, NHS Fife and NHS Lothian Health Board areas, with a population of around 1.4 million and supports research across these regions. NRS Cancer - SE's Management Team include the Experimental Cancer Research Network and Lothian R&D who meet bi-monthly. There is also a steering group for the Research Network which meets annually. NRS Cancer - SE is structured around disease-specific teams to maximise the support for research, both within the Cancer Centre and in local Cancer Units across the region. Research staff based in local Cancer Units cover different disease sites but link in with each of the disease-specific teams.

Further information:

Dorothy Boyle

NRS Cancer - North

NRS Cancer - North was established in 2003 and covers NHS Grampian, NHS Highland,  NHS Orkney, NHS Shetland and NHS Western Isles. The two main centres in the North of Scotland are Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Raigmore Hospital. Currently, Dr Leslie Samuel, Consultant Medical Oncologist, is the Clinical Lead for NRS Cancer and Dr Kirsty Shearer is the Network Manager. 

Within the network, we have a selection of highly trained medical professionals who work together to deliver a wide variety of services including medical, nursing, radiography, biochemistry, pharmacy, pathology, data management and administration to support cancer research.

Further information:

Kirsty Shearer

News highlights from the North Node:

  • Gerald Lip and his team at ARI have exceeded their target of 138 for the ActWELL study ahead of time in just 10 months through the hard work of all the screening staff and research nurses.  The ActWELL study delivers advice on lifestyle change with a focus on physical activity, diet and body weight, for breast cancer risk reduction to women over 50.

  • Well done to our small but mighty cancer research team in NHS Highland who have worked extremely hard to recruit to the STAMPEDE trial (Systemic Therapy in Advancing or Metastatic Prostate Cancer: Evaluation of Drug Efficacy), to be the second highest recruiting site in the UK and top recruiters for the pilot biomarker study.  PI on the study Neil McPhail is extremely proud of their tireless endeavour which has transformed the lives of men with aggressive prostate cancer. The STAMPEDE trial paper on Abiraterone in hormone-sensitive prostate cancer published in NEJM has been shortlisted for BMJ paper of the year.

NRS Cancer – East

In December 2009 NHS Tayside became the fourth NRS Cancer regional network. The Clinical Lead for the East node is Professor Ghulam Nabi, chair of surgical uro-oncology at Ninewells hospital and the Network Manager is Dr Kirsty Shearer.  SCRN-East covers a population of approximately 500,000 in Tayside and North East Fife, taking in the major clinical research facilities at Perth Royal Infirmary and at Ninewells Hospital and Medical School in Dundee.

NRS Cancer - E integrates NRS Cancer research staff with staff employed from other funding streams, and staff work very closely with the Clinical Research Centre, as part of the site-wide management of facilities and resources under the Tayside Medical Science Centre.

Further information:

Kirsty Shearer

News highlights from the East node:

  • Prostate Cancer Research in Dundee was awarded Research Project of the Year by The Herald Higher Education Awards on 28th June 2018. The project team was led by Prof Ghulam Nabi and investigated a new method that offers a more successful diagnosis and management of prostate cancer. The new method utilises shear wave elastography (SWE) which has shown to offer greater accuracy and reliability in diagnosing prostate cancer, whilst being a non-invasive and cheaper method than other available techniques
  • The ROCS (Radiotherapy after Oesophageal Cancer Stenting) study is examining the best form of treatment for patients with advanced oesophageal cancer. It is one of only a few studies that have looked at radiotherapy intervention in oesophageal cancer with an emphasis on quality of life. Also, it is the first time prospective data have been collected on the use of radiotherapy to stop tumour bleeding. The Ninewells team is the largest recruiter of the patients in this UK-wide trial. This has been the result of an enthusiastic and co-ordinated approach between the cancer research team at Ninewells and other key teams within the hospital. A full report of the outcome of the trial, which is due to close later this year, is expected in the next 2 years
  • Dr Michelle Ferguson, Dr Gillian Smith and Dr Wendy McMullen have been awarded a CSO grant to continue and extend their already well established translational ovarian cancer programme.

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