Cheltenham is increasingly synonymous with excellent cancer care. Some of the best clinicians in the country are based here on our doorstep, and so I take a particular interest in the fight against this cruel disease.
I have been hugely encouraged by this week’s announcement from the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, about the rapid development of cutting-edge technologies to treat cancer.
In its new report, the Institute said it was “confident that doubling the survival of people with advanced cancer within a decade is a realistic goal”.
Their five-year research strategy aims to unravel cancer’s ecosystem, diagnose cancer better and earlier and target cancer’s weaknesses more precisely. They believe that in time cancers can be forced to go “extinct” within a patient by eradicating the specific proteins from the cells that cancer is preying on.
And they are confident that through the use of Artificial Intelligence, clinicians will be able design personalised treatments to combine or adjust drugs and treatment on an individual basis.
Immunotherapy has already begun to revolutionise treatment for some cancer patients. Although it doesn’t work for all patients or all cancer types, there is scope to predict with greater accuracy whether it will make that crucial difference.
It’s essential that we are restless for improvement. That’s why I am so passionate about developing Cheltenham General Hospital further as a centre of excellence for cancer treatment. There is huge potential in this area, and I will do whatever I can to petition for the funding required to accelerate the vision.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in Gloucestershire. I am in regular contact with our wonderful oncology team and will continue to offer them my full support. With the multi-million pound wing near the Lido nearing completion, let us redouble our efforts to harness technology so that fewer Cheltenham families experience the tragedy of cancer.