Major cancer breakthrough by Preston experts

Medics in Preston are to pioneer a potentially ground-breaking new cancer test.

By Mike Hill
Monday, 1st June 2020, 9:46 am
Prof Pierre Martin-Hirsch who is to take a new cancer test to clinical trial in Preston
Prof Pierre Martin-Hirsch who is to take a new cancer test to clinical trial in Preston

Described as a “game changer” the blood test is to go into clinical trial at Rosemere Cancer Centre and is capable of detecting womb cancer even at its pre-cancerous stage.

A study involving consultants from Rosemere’s foundation has already helped to establish the test as an advancement in improving the diagnosis and prognosis of the disease.

Currently, testing for the disease is usually done in the first instance by ultrasound using a procedure which is intimate, expensive and limited by the scarcity of experts.

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Dr Maria Paraskevaidi

Women with a thickened womb lining then undergo a biopsy either as an out-patient or in-patient if a general anaesthetic is needed.

The simplicity and accuracy of the new blood plasma test offers the possibility of using it as a screening tool in those at risk of the disease and fast-tracking patients into treatment to catch their cancer early.

Dr Maria Paraskevaidi, a research associate at the University of Central Lancashire and Imperial College London, lead a three year study of the test.

She received a Rosemere Cancer Foundation grant of £72,000 to work with oncological gynaecologists at Rosemere Cancer Centre, the region’s specialist cancer treatment centre at the Royal Preston Hospital, to complete what was for her a total 12-year project to analyse samples.

In all, Dr Paraskevaidi tested the blood plasma of 652 women attending the Preston centre alongside others from NHS trusts in Manchester and London. She also collaborated with colleagues at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil.

In doing this, Dr Paraskevaidi and her team generated a characteristic biological fingerprint indicative of signs which confirmed whether or not patients were presenting with signs of womb cancer or its precursor, the pre-cancerous condition atypical hyperplasia.

Dr Paraskevaidi said: “Despite the rising incidence of womb cancer throughout the world, there have been few advances made in improving diagnosis and prognosis of this disease.

“Our research signals an important step forward for patients, clinicians and the research community, and has the potential to be developed into a simple, low-cost and instantaneous test for endometrial (womb) cancer in the future.”

Prof Pierre Martin-Hirsch, Rosemere Cancer Centre-based consultant in gynaecological cancer surgery and Research Director at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “This is a potential game changer in the early recognition of endometrial (womb) cancer. I am proud of the achievements of this collaborative team.”

Now Prof Martin-Hirsch and his Rosemere team are to take the test into clinical trial as an initial step to establishing it as a first-line diagnostic tool across the NHS.