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Your donations help us continue to make life-saving advances in cancer research

Alumni donations raise over £30,000 for cancer research at Exeter

Thanks to the generosity of our alumni community, research at Exeter is continuing to help people affected by cancer in the UK. 

Donations large and small help fund everything from the specialist equipment we need to sequence DNA and the brilliant researchers who run clinical trials, to the chemicals needed to develop diagnostic tests. All of which are helping us to make life-saving advances in cancer research.

There is no doubt that cancer matters to us all – 1 in 2 people in the UK will get cancer yet our country’s diagnosis times lag behind many others across the world. A shocking 90% of people eventually diagnosed with cancer see their GPs a year before with symptoms, and we know that the longer someone has to wait for diagnosis, the worse their chances of survival. 100,000 people needlessly die from cancer in the UK every year, mainly due to late diagnosis. The pandemic has also made the wait for diagnosis even longer, but research at Exeter is helping to change this.

Professor Willie Hamilton and his team developed symptoms charts and software which are helping GPs save thousands of lives a year by spotting patients with the highest risk symptoms early. Dr Sarah Bailey is developing a simple £4 test to accurately identify those at risk of colorectal cancer. In a recent trial, her FIT test, which picks up traces of blood in faeces, identified people who had cancer but only minimal symptoms.

“Dr Bailey’s award-winning research means GPs can use a simple blood test to diagnose cancer earlier. Colleagues in my practice have diagnosed cancers they otherwise might have missed.” - General Practitioner, Dr Sam Merriel

Exeter’s research is also helping to spot cancers faster. Inspired by the technology astronomers use to investigate distant stars, Professor Nick Stone has pioneered a ground-breaking ‘smart needle’. The probe uses light to pinpoint cancerous tissues almost immediately. Light is scattered differently from healthy or diseased tissues, meaning that doctors can detect cancers within a few seconds, producing near instantaneous results. The team believe that the new technique could significantly improve the rate of detection and diagnosis, particularly for lymphoma and breast cancer. They are now embarking on a clinical trial using the smart needle in patients for the first time.

Research such as this is made possible thanks to the support of our donors. More than 200 of our alumni made a gift in response to the cancer research appeal that we launched in the autumn, raising over £30,000 for cancer research at Exeter. Exeter has state-of-the-art facilities, world-leading scientists and an amazing alumni community behind us helping our researchers to detect, diagnose and destroy cancer – thank you to everyone who has supported the appeal to date.

Date: 14 June 2022

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