Our first Bowel Cancer UK and Royal College of Surgeons England Research Fellow
Tuesday 17 October 2017
Today we’re delighted to announce that Miss Marta Penna from Imperial College London and Oxford University Hospital has been awarded a jointly-funded fellowship between the charity and the Royal College of Surgeons of England – our very first Bowel Cancer UK/RCS Research Fellow.
Her fellowship is part of a partnership with the Royal College to invest up to half a million pounds in bowel cancer surgical research. Together we will establish the UK’s first network of Colorectal Cancer Surgical Research Fellows as well as a Colorectal Cancer Surgical Research Chair.
Investing in surgical research is crucial to develop more effective and personalised life-saving treatments, standardise surgery and care for patients regardless of where they live, and minimise side-effects for everyone who has an operation.
Miss Penna’s work is aimed at analysing in detail a new technique pioneered to improve outcomes from surgery for patients with rectal cancer.
For people who have rectal cancer, the standard therapy and greatest chance of cure is surgery. Surgeons remove the bowel with the tumour and the surrounding envelope of tissue (known as mesorectum) that contains lymph nodes to which cancer cells can spread – the procedure is called total mesorectal excision (TME).
TME can be more difficult to perform in patients whose tumour is lower down in the rectum where the pelvis becomes narrower, but a new procedure called transanal total mesorectal excision (TaTME) aims to address this.
Miss Penna’s research will provide valuable input into the training for surgeons learning this technique, increasing the likelihood of patients living with better bowel function and with less risk of their cancer recurring.
Miss Penna, who is doing her PhD at Imperial College London, says: “Every year over 41,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK, and most of these cancers are found in the rectum. Surgery offers the greatest likelihood of cure. However, rectal cancer and its treatment can also lead to poor bowel, urinary and sexual function, impairing quality of life and still running the risk of cancer recurrence.
“Thanks to extensive work, determination and effort in surgical innovation, the latest new advanced technique, TaTME, aims to improve these outcomes for patients so that they can live longer happier lives.”
Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK, says: “We’re delighted to have funded our very first Colorectal Cancer Surgical Research Fellow, part of investment in the surgical research leaders of the future. It will help to ensure the next generation of patients will have access to high-quality surgery, which will save lives. This funding forms a key part of our new five year research strategy, which will be published later this year.
It will help to ensure the next generation of patients will have access to high-quality surgery, which will save lives.
“Surgery is the most common treatment for bowel cancer and central to curing the disease. Miss Penna’s work in developing a training tool for surgeons to learn a new technique for patients that have a tumour lower down the rectum will help to improve outcomes from surgery for rectal cancer.”
Martyn Coomer, Director of Research at the Royal College Surgeons of England, says: “I am really excited that we have our first jointly-funded Colorectal Cancer Surgical Research Fellow. Miss Penna’s work has the potential to make a really positive impact on patients with rectal cancer.
“Surgeons are always looking to improve and learn new ways of treating patients, and the training tool that Miss Pena will develop will certainly help with this.”