World Cancer Day – University celebrates life-saving research

This World Cancer Day, the University marked the first anniversary of the Leeds Cancer Research Centre (LCRC), which brings together cancer experts working across disciplines to change people’s lives.

Judy and Trevor sat on the sofa.

LCRC is a partnership between the University and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, and is co-led by Clinical Director David Sebag-Montefiore, Professor of Oncology in the University’s School of Medicine and Consultant Clinical Oncologist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals. The vision of LCRC is to bring together scientists and clinicians across disciplines to transform the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer; tackle cancer-related health inequalities, support the next generation of early career researchers and improve patient outcomes in Leeds, Yorkshire and across the globe.

The research that changed lives of a married couple

One ongoing bowel cancer trial has already had life-changing implications for husband and wife Judy Hatton and Trevor Thewlis, from Cookridge in Leeds.

Judy, 76, is now cancer-free and, thanks to the new treatment approach, does not face the same significant side effects Trevor lives with. Judy was diagnosed in 2019, 13 years after her husband, and was treated for the very same cancer.

Trevor, 82, had standard treatment: chemotherapy and radiotherapy followed by surgery. The treatment left Trevor with a permanent ileostomy — where the small intestine is diverted through an opening in the abdomen — and a stoma bag, which collects waste.

The international STAR-TREC trial funded by Cancer Research UK helped Judy avoid surgery altogether, instead having a five-week outpatient course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy tablets, which eradicated her tumour.

Judy Hatton and Trevor Thewlis talk about their experiences with treatment after facing the same type of cancer.

‘Leeds is leading the way’

David Sebag-Montefiore said: “It was incredible to learn that I’d treated Judy’s husband Trevor years ago — and it is wonderful that we have been able to help both Judy and Trevor overcome their cancer.

“Leeds is leading the way in trying to find an effective outpatient radiotherapy treatment for early-stage bowel cancer that allows patients to avoid the short and long-term side effects of surgery and the need for a temporary or permanent colostomy.”

University of Leeds’ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Simone Buitendijk said: “Cancer research at the University of Leeds is focused on addressing health inequalities and is producing some incredibly exciting results with real impact.”

Leeds’ research that tackles cancer

In its first year, LCRC has already made several significant advances in the fight against cancer, including: 

  • A £7 million collaborative research project into secondary bone tumours of the spine, which sees patients fitted with a tailor-made implant to protect them from fractures.
  • Developing a magnetic tentacle robot which can reach most areas of the lungs, improving detection and treatment of lung cancer.
  • Opening a new trial into prostate cancer to prevent it from coming back after treatment.
  • Investigating the impact of genetics and cancer with the aim of developing personalised treatments for leukaemia, glioma and glioblastoma multiforme.

For more information about Leeds Cancer Research Centre, email LCRC Research & Innovation Development Manager Dr Danielle Battle, at

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