Congratulations to Margaret Grayson and Lynette McHendry – MBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours List!

The NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum (NICRCF) and NI Cancer Trials Network (NICTN) warmly congratulate Margaret Grayson and Lynette McHendry on their Queen’s Birthday Honours.  Forum members, staff and the wider cancer research community are delighted by the news and recognition of their extraordinary achievements.  Typical reactions have been ‘Fabulous news, so well deserved’, ‘Two amazing and inspirational women. Many congratulations to both!’

Margaret Grayson, NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum (NICRCF) Chairperson, has been awarded an MBE for services to cancer research in NI. Margaret is a trailblazer in Personal and Public Involvement (PPI) in cancer research in NI.  Chairperson since the NICRCF was established in 2011, her exemplary leadership and passionate advocacy for PPI in cancer research has been instrumental is creating a culture change of partnership working.  In NI and beyond Margaret works enthusiastically with researchers and other PPI representatives influencing cancer research and PPI.  Margaret is a valued member of many groups including HSC R&D Public Involvement Enhancing Research, several Cancer Research UK advisory panels, National Cancer Research Institute Consumer Involvement Steering Group, Independent Cancer Patients’ Voice and use MY data.   A frequent guest speaker, PPI workshop facilitator and member of many study/project committees and research steering groups, Margaret’s energetic and constructive approach always brings fresh insight and maximises patient benefit. NICRCF members and staff have enormous admiration for Margaret and universally acknowledge how deserving this award is and how fortunate we all are to work with this wonderful friend and colleague!

NICRCF member Lynette McHendry, fundraiser and educator, Inflammatory Breast Cancer, has been awarded an MBE for services to women in the UK with breast cancer.

Following a diagnosis of Inflammatory Breast Cancer in 2015, Lynette set about a campaign to raise awareness of symptoms and raise money for research into Inflammatory Breast Cancer.  Lynette says ‘At every opportunity I tell people about Inflammatory Breast Cancer. I don’t refer to it as Breast Cancer as I want every women to know of the very different symptoms than a lump.’  Read more about Lynette’s story here: Lynette McHendry’s Story June 2018.  Lynette is an inspiration and support to so many.  Her amazing achievements in education and fundraising are a testament to her passion and determination.


Both Margaret and Lynette are most deserving of these awards and all who know them are delighted they have received recognition for their wonderful work and service!

Congratulations to Margaret Grayson – Recipient of the 2018 Iris Colvin Lifetime Achievement Award for Health

Margaret Grayson received the Iris Colvin Lifetime Achievement Award for Health, presented by the Women’s Forum NI on 21 April 2018 at Belfast City Hall. She is warmly congratulated by her friends and colleagues from the NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum, NICTN and others within the HSC and beyond.  The award acknowledges Margaret’s exemplary leadership and care for cancer patients.  During her career as a Therapy Radiographer, Margaret developed the role of Information and Support Radiographer and won UK Radiographer of the Year in 2004.  Following a breast cancer diagnosis in 2004, and retirement in 2010, Margaret has continued to be an energetic advocate for patients through her role as Personal and Public Involvement Representative in cancer research both locally and nationally, including NICRCF Chairperson since 2011.  In 2016 she received a special commendation in the Cancer Research UK Flame of Hope ‘Research Engagement Award’ category. Margaret is a very deserving recipient of this lifetime acheivement award and all who know her are delighted she has received this recognition for her work.

Survey and Focus Group Results – PPI in Cancer Research in NI

Thank you to all those involved in cancer research in NI and members of the NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum (NICRCF) who participated in a Survey and Focus Group on Personal and Public Involvement (PPI) in research. The Survey was undertaken to:

  • Evaluate the existing experience of PPI in cancer research in NI from a stakeholder perspective
  • Evaluate if PPI objectives and standards are being met
  • Identify areas for further development and gather recommendations to help inform a new cancer research PPI strategy

The results are published here PPI in Cancer Research in NI NICTN_NICRCF Survey and Focus Group Results Final v26.03.18 and demonstrate an overwhelming endorsement of the value of PPI and the NICRCF. As one researcher remarked ‘I cannot describe the input of the Forum more highly. They are a dedicated bunch who give depth and clinical relevance to research. What they have taught me about research….no book or lecture ever could.’

A summary of Future Recommendations are:

  1. Provide dedicated PPI funding and expenses processes
  2. Enhance PPI support structures
  3. Expand PPI Representative numbers and networking
  4. Enhance training
  5. Raise researcher and public PPI awareness
  6. Increase PPI opportunities
  7. Share PPI impact

The strategy for PPI in Cancer Research in NI will be renewed, informed by the Survey and Focus Group results.

Belfast Showcase at ECMC North Event

The Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) Network is dedicated to supporting pioneering, early-stage clinical trials and translation of scientific discoveries into new cancer treatments for patients. Belfast ECMC is a collaboration across NICTN, the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, QUB, and the NI Biobank. Scientists, doctors, nurses and patient representatives from six centres (Belfast, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield) attended an ‘ECMC North Showcase’ in Newcastle-upon-Tyne 15 March 2018.  The aim was to share research and promote collaboration across the network.

Belfast ECMC speakers included Professor Richard Wilson, who kicked-off the presentations by senior investigators describing a phase I trial of 5-FU and CV6-168, currently in development.

Professor Richard Wilson, ECMC North Showcase, 15 March 2018

Dr Eileen Parkes presented her research on the biology underpinning the DNA Damage Response Deficiency (DDRD) assay, developed by QUB and Almac Diagnostics, and Dr Philip Dunne described how ‘Intra-tumoural stromal heterogeneity undermines colorectal cancer transcriptional classification’. Belfast poster presentations were by Dr Suneil Jain and Professor Daniel Longley.  The event was very successful and a useful collaborative and networking opportunity for all involved.

Belfast ECMC is one of 18 adult centres across the UK. It is funded by HSC R&D Division and Cancer Research UK.

Networking Photos from ECMC North Newcastle 15.03.18

NICTN and NICRCF members enthusiastic about CCRCB Open Day

Staff from the NICTN and members of the NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum (NICRCF) were delighted to meet and chat to members of the public during the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) Open Day held on 17 February 2018. Over 300 visitors attended the information sessions/stands and lab tours.  There was a lot of interest in cancer clinical trials and the role people affected by cancer can play in shaping our clinical research.  Please contact us if you require any further information.  Photographed are NICTN staff Ruth Boyd and Ruth Irwin (1st and 3rd from the left) and NICRCF members (2nd, 4th and 5th from the left) Margaret Grayson, Janine McCann and Ffiona Crawford.

Clinical Research Nurses attend CRUK education day in London

NICTN co-funded (HSC R&D Division and Cancer Research UK) Clinical Research Nurses (CRNs) attended the first meeting of a Cancer Research UK ongoing programme of education, professional development and support for CRNs.  The meeting was held 05 February 2018 in the renowned Francis Crick Biomedical Research Institute in London.  The day, which included talks from national research leaders as well and workshops and peer networking, was evaluated positively.  Our cancer CRNs play a very valuable role in the delivery of vital cancer research and improving patient outcomes.  CRNs attending were: Back row (Lt-Rt): Philip McAuley – Antrim Hospital, Jackie McGee – Altnagelvin Hospital.  Front row (Lt-Rt): Jennifer McCormick, Denise Bond – Craigavon Hospital, Kirsty McKay – Antrim Hospital.

Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) – Open Day 17 February 2018

As part of the NI Science Festival the public are welcome to the CCRCB Open Day on Saturady 17 February 2018 at 10am – 2.30pm.  This event is ‘Celebrating a decade of advances in cancer research in Belfast.’  Drop in to hear about clinical trials, the NI Biobank and population-based cancer research.  Meet staff from the NICTN and members of the NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum.  There are lab tours and interative activities for all the family.  Book places for talks at 10.30 and 12.30 via the NI Science Festival to hear from leading researchers who are translating science into clinical practice.  See the full programme here.

Successful Breast Cancer Clinical Trials Showcase

Showcase speakers (left-right) Front Row: Dr Carmel Conefrey, Miss Cliona Kirwan, Mrs Margaret Grayson. Back Row: Professor Rob Stein, Mr Stuart McIntosh, Professor Daniel Rea, Dr Indrani Bhattacharya

The NI Cancer Trials Network (NICTN) were delighted to welcome over 50 attendees to a Breast Cancer Trials Showcase held in CCRCB 14 November 2017.  The meeting, chaired by Mr Stuart McIntosh, NICTN Deputy Clinical Director, brought together national trial leads, breast cancer MDT members from across the region, scientists and patient/carer representatives from the NI Cancer Trials Forum (NICRCF).   The event was a great success with the majority of people who completed evaluations rating the meeting as ‘excellent’ and ‘highly relevant’.  Visiting speakers included Professor Daniel Rea, University of Birmingham, Chair of the NCRI Breast Clinical Studies Group, Miss Cliona Kirwan, University of Manchester and Professor Rob Stein, UCHL. The event led to lively discussion in relation to a range of issues following excellent presentations on clinical trials in the setting of personalised treatment in breast cancer:

ROSCO: Is there a role for CEP17/TOP2A testing in selecting anthracycline or taxane chemotherapy as neo-adjuvant chemotherapy for early breast cancer?

LORIS: Is active monitoring non-inferior to surgery in non-high grade DCIS, in terms of ipsilateral invasive breast cancer free survival time?

PRIMETIME: The risk of ipsilateral invasive breast disease following selection of women categories as very low risk by IHC4+C to direct selective avoidance of breast radiotherapy?

OPTIMA: Does multi-parameter analysis directed treatment assignment reduce chemotherapy use for patients with hormone sensitive primary breast cancer without detriment to recurrence and survival?

Professor Daniel Rea presenting at the Breast Cancer Trials Showcase, CCRCB, 14 Nov 2017

A session on trial decision aids was presented by Dr Indrani Bhattacharya from the Institute of Cancer Research.  Margaret Grayson, Chair of the NICRCF, stated that patients wanted to hear about clinical trials but highlighted the findings of the NI Cancer Patient Experience Survey that reported clinical trials had not been discussed with the majority of patients.  Dr Carmel Conefrey, from the University of Bristol, delivered the final session of the afternoon which focused on the challenges of patient recruitment to trials of less treatment.  She concluded with a comment that had been a recurring theme throughout the afternoon – a cohesive MDT is key to facilitating recruitment to clinical trials!

NICTN wish to thank Roche who kindly supported catering for the event. They also wish to thank staff from NICTN, NIB and CRUK for information stands, and Caroline Crothers, CRUK Research Engagement Manager, for supporting event co-ordination.

Showcase Photos 1 14.11.17

Showcase Photos 2 14.11.17

Clinical Trial Results – Import Low

Belfast was one of 30 centres that took part in the Import Low clinical trial. From 2007 – 2010 over 2000 women, aged 50 and above, participated in the study following breast conserving surgery for early breast cancer.  Women were randomised to one of 3 groups:

  • standard whole-breast radiotherapy
  • whole-breast radiotherapy with full dose radiotherapy to the original tumour site and reduced dose to the rest of the breast
  • partial-breast radiotherapy

The results of the trial were published in the Lancet in September 2017.

The report indicated that local relapse rates were similarly low in all groups and women in the partial-breast radiotherapy group reported fewer long-term changes relating to breast appearance and feel.

Margaret Grayson, Chair of the NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum commented; ‘The results of the Import Low Trial are important to women diagnosed with early breast cancer in relation to their radiotherapy treatment and will also impact on quality of life issues. Thank you to the 2018 women throughout the UK who took part in this Trial which continues to highlight the importance of research and how vital clinical trials are to us as a population.’

The study was sponsored by the Institute of Clinical Research and funded by Cancer Research UK.

Breast Cancer Trials Showcase 14 Nov 2017

The NI Cancer Trials Network (NICTN) welcomes national leaders in breast cancer clinical trials to an exciting event showcasing clinical trials in the NICTN portfolio. The meeting will be held 14 November 2017 in the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, Queen’s University Belfast.  Researchers and members of multi-professional teams from across NI, alongside the NI Cancer Research Consumer Forum (NICRCF), will hear from researchers leading trials in a range of breast cancer treatment settings.  Any healthcare professional or NICRCF member wishing to attend should contact the NICTN.  Please see Flyer 14 Nov17 Breast Cancer Clinical Trials Showcase Website v2 and NICTN showcase agenda 14_11_17 v4.0 for further details.