How our research is improving cancer outcomes

One in two people born after 1960 in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. Our cancer research strategies address the major challenges to be overcome in order to steadily reduce cancer incidence and improve outcomes for cancer patients. These include:

Understanding the fundamental biology of cancer

New technologies in genomics, proteomics, structural biology and cell and molecular biology will radically improve our understanding of fundamental cancer biology in coming years.

  • Leeds has developed and recruited leading scientists and provides world-class facilities for this research. Examples of current programmes include clarifying the way cancer cells send messages, the structure of the molecules involved in cancer growth, how our body responds to cancer and characterising the essential cancer cells which drive the growth of brain tumours.


Understanding the causes of cancer and effectively using that knowledge to drive cancer prevention

Scientists, general practitioners, public health specialists and the cancer care community are working to promote cancer prevention. 

  • Our current programmes include understanding malignant melanoma and how it progresses in patients. Our studies are assessing dietary factors important in the causes of colorectal cancer.
Translating new biological knowledge to improve diagnosis and treatment


Our cancer researchers focus on translational research to bring new scientific knowledge to the clinic.

  • Our research has made major contributions to reducing cancer deaths. We are working to understand the behaviour of colorectal cancer and how this knowledge can improve its diagnosis and identify patients who need additional treatments. We are studying how white blood cells can become cancer cells and using this intelligence to plan novel treatments. In a strategic collaboration with the Mayo Clinic and Leeds Cancer Centre, we are working on new vaccines which help the body kill cancer, using viruses.


Developing precision oncology

Patients’ diagnosis and treatment must be increasingly personalised. New tests to guide treatments will result in more effective and less toxic treatments.

  • Our new focus on precision medicine is bringing all our expertise together to improve existing therapies and develop new ones to improve the choice of cancer treatments.


Generating the clinical evidence to improve care

The Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research and our clinical investigators initiate and deliver one of the largest portfolios of clinical trials in the UK, looking at innovation to improve cancer survival, and patients’ quality of life.

  • Over 200 trials are currently open in Leeds including new and improved therapies to improve outcomes in multiple myeloma and a clinical trial using internet technology to monitor patients for toxicity, well-being and quality of life.


Identifying and delivering the right health strategies to improve cancer outcomes

Our clinicians, clinical investigators and applied health researchers are focusing on improved strategies for early diagnosis and optimal delivery of cancer services.

  • We have world-leading expertise and capability in health informatics, clinical trial methodologies and health economics which includes the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA). We have shown that hospitals that undertake research have better outcomes for patients with colorectal cancer patients.


Ensuring that best practice is used to diagnose and treat cancer and care for cancer patients throughout their illness and recovery 

We have a leading position in the identification and implementation of best practice through our clinical investigators in oncology, palliative care, applied health research, health informatics and economics.

  • We are exploring radical new approaches such as patients being able to have chest x-rays without needing to see their GP first, which can help early diagnosis.