On top of cancer

March 6, 1998

IT WAS interesting to read (THES, February 13) of the call by MP Ian Gibson for the creation of a US-style national cancer institute.

However, it was surprising not to see reference to the UK coordinating committee for cancer research, operated jointly by the Medical Research Council and the Cancer Research Campaign.

The committee plays a national role in supporting clinical trials for cancer treatments. On the research side, Britain effectively has a national cancer research institute in the internationally acclaimed Institute of Cancer Research, whose scientists have in the past five years discovered more cancer-related genes than any equivalent US institute.

Strategically linked in its research to the Royal Marsden NHS Trust cancer hospital, the two form the largest comprehensive cancer centre in Europe, translating biomedical discoveries into patient treatment and care.

British governments spend the lowest proportion of the national public R&D budget on cancer of any Western country, while the UK has one of the highest rates of the disease in the world. This is where our national priorities in health research should lie.

Keith Snell. Scientific secretary. Institute of Cancer Research

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