Research

We currently have four south west based research projects underway that started in 2017, with some groundbreaking outcomes expected this year. Scroll below for further details.

Some donors ask us how a charity can make any difference in the greater scheme of cancer research. While millions of pounds are invested every year by the leading research institutes, we are confident we are also making our mark and flying the flag for the south west. We have selected the neglected areas of research and these have a direct and tangible impact on cancer treatment outcomes.

Achieved with a minimal financial investment, the nationally recognised expertise available in our region means the West Country is the perfect place for BCW to make an impact. Of course we will share what we know for the greater good; support us and support all.

We are currently inviting more applications for 2019/20. Click here for an application form.

2018 Genetics Appeal - we've done it!

Bowel Cancer West pinpointed genetic research as a priority to stopping bowel cancer and set our sights at the start of 2018 on raising approximately £20,000. In August, that goal become a reality and thanks to the support of our donors and fundraisers and we hope to make a big impact on three significant projects:   


1) This project brings together scientists from University of Exeter and surgeons from the Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Hospital Trust to identify the mechanisms that cause normal cells to mutate into malignant cells to form bowel cancers. By understanding the DNA changes that occur in patients with bowel cancer, we hope to identify unique signals that will help with screening, choosing best treatments, developing new treatments and helping guide prognosis. This research can significantly improve outcomes of patients with colorectal cancer and we will be committing to £5712 to support this project.

2) To create a model from patient intestinal tissue (patients with MAP or FAP) to demonstrate colorectal cancer development. This model will enable researchers to determine molecular dysfunction that occurs during the formation of a tumour in the colon, rectum and intestine. Understanding how this occurs can be crucial to preventing the development of cancer. We will fund £9549.49 to ensure this research can go ahead.

3) Mutations in the AXIN2 gene have been reported to have a role in causing colorectal effects. This project aims to further explore such mutations, with the aim of genetically characterising the tumours which occur in the individuals who carry them. Once we have a better understanding of this gene, we will be able to optimise the care of patients and their families who are affected by such mutations, so that we can try to prevent cancer from developing. This project  will recive £5,000 worth of funding from us.

Tumour Syndromes Research Group lead by Professor Julian Sampson- Director of the Division of Cancer and Genetics

2017 Projects

1) Patient Fitness for Surgery

This is a long-term study that is being undertaken by Gary Minto, a consultant anaesthetist based at Derriford Hospital, to identify the links between patient fitness and clinical outcomes. The research compares and combines a simple exercise- bike test with a CT scan of the heart (eliminating other lengthy procedures) in patients being assessed for major surgery. Short-term results are expected in 2018 and early indications are very positive and the work has already had a direct impact on several patients.

2) Web focused methods of coping with bowel cancer

A new website designed by Genetics Councellor Selina Goodman: www.familyweb.org.uk assists families living with a high risk of bowel cancer. This pioneering new project allows relatives to share information about their diagnosis with each other securely via the website, so making a supportive network or ‘web’ of contacts between family members. This can be vital in enabling relatives to get the screening they need to protect themselves. The website also provides accessible information about genetic forms of bowel cancer and what action people can take to reduce their risk of getting cancer. Getting the correct information to relatives can make a huge difference and potentially saves lives.

3) Patient Safety

Charlotte Hitchins' work focuses on the impact of non technical skills training on optimising patient safety. Her particular area of specialisation is endoscopy. This is a key element of the colorectal cancer diagnosis process.

This is a high turnover environment where errors and accidents can potentially occur and she is currently recruiting patients for the study and expects to complete in 2017.

4) Genetic Research

Laura Thomas is based at Cardiff University and is investigating genetic mechanisms in polyposis of the bowel.

Cancer is caused by genetic mutation, so understanding cell behaviour at the genetic level is key to identifying techniques to fight it. The work described here will have immediate impact on patients throughout the UK. Identification of the causes of polyposis of the bowel in this group of patients will allow for more accurate genetic diagnosis and improvements to the diagnostic techniques used.

More importantly, it will allow for more appropriate management of polyposis of the bowel and genetic counselling for patients and their relatives who are at risk.

Cancer is caused by genetic mutation, so understanding cancer at the genetic level is essential to identifying techniques to fight it.

Researching the causes of polyposis (numerous small growths) of the bowel in a small group of patients will allow for more accurate genetic diagnosis and improvements to the diagnostic techniques used.

Our work will have immediate impact on patients throughout the UK so a huge thank you to Bowel Cancer West for your support.


Cardiff University, Genetics Research Centre (BCW funded project)