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A Year in Review: 2022

To change cancer outcomes, the answer lies in research. At Cancer Research Wales, we fund world-class research right here in Wales allowing real innovation to start close to home.

2022 has been a busy year for the research team and a welcome return to business-as-usual following years of disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Take a look below at our top four achievements for 2022, which are only made possible thanks to our generous supporters.

1) The creation of revolutionary new blood test set to transform the early diagnosis of cancer

The Raman Blood Test for bowel cancer has been developed by researchers at Swansea University, led by Professors Dean Harris and Peter Dunstan, with funding from Cancer Research Wales, Health and Care Research Wales and the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).

This year, results were reported from a ground-breaking study involving 27 GP practices and 595 patients across West Wales – these showed that 79 percent of early-stage bowel cancers and 100 percent of advanced bowel cancers were picked up by the test.

Building on these highly promising results, in 2023 we are awarding an additional £400,000 of funding to the team, in order to assess the use of the Raman Blood Test for bowel cancer screening, comparing its accuracy to the currently used Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT).

It is hoped the non-invasive Raman Blood Test will dramatically cut waiting times for the diagnosis of bowel cancer by reducing the need for colonoscopies, for which thousands of patients are currently on the waiting list.

2) Our ‘Get-Checked’ campaign won an award

The Cancer Research Wales “Get Checked” campaign was part of an award-winning group at the Moondance Cancer Awards in June. The campaign, which was aimed at encouraging the over 50s to visit their GP with any concerning cancer symptoms, reached an audience of over 18 million across TV, radio and online, with over 43,000 people visiting the Get Checked website.

The Moondance Cancer Awards were held to recognise achievements and innovations in the cancer field throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The Cancer Awareness Campaign Group, of which Cancer Research Wales was a key member, won the Achievement Award in the Public Awareness and Engagement category.

3) Communicating about our research across Wales

Communicating the impact that cancer research can have and the difference that can be made for patients and their families is a key part of our work at Cancer Research Wales. In September, we were privileged to host an event in the Senedd, attended by Members of the Senedd and other key policymakers, to promote our achievements and drive home the importance of cancer research in Wales.

This year (with the kind support of the Millennium Trust and the Waterloo Foundation) we also restarted our Science Café program, which gives the public a chance to hear about our research, take part in interactive activities and meet some of our scientists in an informal environment. We held two events, one in Brecon in October and a second in Swansea in November. Keep an eye out for more Science Cafés across Wales in 2023.

4) Building the future of cancer research in Wales

A key element of creating a thriving research environment is bringing in new ideas by training the next generation of scientists, which is why Cancer Research Wales funds PhD studentships.

This year, two of our funded students completed their PhDs at Cardiff University – congratulations to Dr Peter Henley and Dr Richard Ali! We have a number of other students approaching the end of their studies and we look forward to celebrating their successes in 2023.

What’s next for Cancer Research Wales?

Here at Cancer Research Wales, we are driven in everything we do to meet our vision to unite Wales against cancer through world-class research. The NHS is facing huge ongoing pressures, with long waiting lists and staff shortages – research offers the hope of new tools and solutions to address some of the issues. In 2023, we will continue to fund the highest quality cancer research and advocate for the implementation of the latest developments, to ensure that cancer patients in Wales can see real benefits.

All of us here would like to say thank you to our researchers and supporters, without which none of our work would be possible. We hope that you will continue to support us in whatever way you can. Together, we can change the narrative of what a cancer diagnosis means today and give hope to the next generation of cancer patients in Wales.