Research News


Horizons Study


New study to improve the lives of people after cancer treatment

The Royal Surrey County Hospital is taking part in a landmark study to improve the lives of people who have been treated for cancer.

Macmillan Cancer Support estimates that 2.5 million people are living with cancer in the UK[i], with this figure rising by three per cent each year.  Though more and more people are surviving cancer, many people experience long-term side effects caused by the disease and its treatment. More research is needed to understand the experiences and needs of those before, during, and after treatment.

The HORIZONS study, led by the Macmillan Survivorship Research Group at the University of Southampton and funded by Macmillan Cancer Support, is aiming to find out how a diagnosis of cancer and its treatment affects people in the short, medium, and long term.

HORIZONS will recruit 3,000 cancer patients from across the UK at the point of diagnosis, and follow them up using a questionnaire survey throughout their treatment and beyond, for a number of years.

The study currently recruits breast cancer patients diagnosed under 50 years old, gynaecological cancer patients, and those with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Professor Claire Foster, from the University of Southampton and Chief Investigator for HORIZONS, said: “The general focus for cancer research has been on cure and prevention of the disease, which is really important. What we want to do is better understand the impact that cancer and its treatment can have on people’s everyday lives.

“By carefully capturing detailed evidence of patient’s histories and experiences over time, we will be in a much better position to understand what consequences are faced when, and what can be done to improve the lives of people living with and beyond cancer.”

Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said:

“I am delighted that Macmillan is involved in this valuable study, as understanding the impact that cancer and its treatment can have on people affected by the illness is one of our top priorities. The HORIZONS study will provide valuable insights into patients’ experiences, and this will help us to ensure we are providing the best possible support for people affected by cancer.”

For general information about HORIZONS visit

RSCH_main entrance 2013

Getting cancer patients fit for surgery as part of a new clinical trial.


The Royal Surrey County Hospital is getting cancer patients fit for surgery as part of a new clinical trial.

Patients will receive a 15 week prehabiltation, or ‘prehab’, programme, with an exercise scientist to prepare them for surgical procedures.

The study is aimed at patients who are facing a 10 hour long operation for oesophageal and stomach cancer.

Prior to surgery this group of patients usually undergo nine weeks of chemotherapy and in most cases their fitness levels deteriorate.

It is hoped that patients who have undergone the ‘prehab’ programme will be fitter and as a result their bodies will be better prepared for surgery and to deal with any complications that may arise from this major high risk surgery.

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Study into weight loss in patients with incurable lung cancer.


A study looking into weight loss in patients with incurable lung cancer has started at Royal Surrey County Hospital.

Researchers will explore how common it is for this group of patients to experience weight loss before they start treatment and how this could affect their quality of life.

It will also scrutinise whether doctors are able to predict outcomes using a number of simple diagnostic tests and measures before the individual commences chemotherapy.

In total the study aims to recruit 100 patients, who will come largely from the Royal Surrey, with support from neighbouring Trusts.

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Dhillon Dr Tony

Consultant receives multi-million pound grants to test cancer drug


A cancer treatment that teaches the body to attack tumours is to be trialed on colorectal patients after a Consultant from Royal Surrey County Hospital has been awarded two multi-million pound research grants.

Dr Tony Dhillon, who is a Medical Oncologist, has been granted the money by two American pharmaceutical companies to investigate whether immunotherapy can improve the outcomes for bowel cancer patients.

Combined, the two studies will involve almost 500 patients and will look at whether the drugs are effective in stimulating the body’s natural defences into destroying tumours.

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Royal Surrey researchers helping talented drama student


A talented drama student left bed bound and struggling to talk by a rare liver disease is being helped by researchers at Royal Surrey County Hospital.

Emma Gaul was forced to put her plans for drama school on hold when she was diagnosed with Wilson’s disease, a genetic disorder which causes a toxic overload of copper in the body.

The illness progressed rapidly and left the teenager with neurological difficulties and cirrhosis of the liver, which is more commonly associated with people who drink too much alcohol.

The teenager from Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland, is now the first patient taking part in a clinical trial at Royal Surrey County Hospital.

The Trust is one of two sites in the UK that has been chosen to trial the new drug, bis-chloline Tetrathiomolybdate (WTX101), with Professor Aftab Ala chosen as the principle investigator.

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