Papworth celebrate 21 years of Thoracic Oncology Unit

Members of the Papworth Thoracic Oncology service were joined by colleagues and supporters to mark the 21st anniversary of the Thoracic Oncology Unit at Papworth Hospital, having officially opened in January 1996, with the primary aim of delivering speedy diagnosis and treatment to patients.

The celebration was hosted on 7 February 2017, at the Queens College, Cambridge. Key speakers at the event included Mr Francis Wells, Consultant Surgeon, Dr David Gilligan, Oncology Consultant and Dr Robert Rintoul, Consultant Respiratory Physician – reflecting on the pivotal milestones in the service’s history that have shaped its success. 

This ranged from the innovative Two-Stop Clinic set up by Mr Francis Wells and colleagues in 1995 through a number of pivotal clinical trials, to the £2.5m grant from the British Lung Foundation (BLF) and Victor Dahdaleh Charitable Foundation this year, the largest grant ever awarded to Papworth, for mesothelioma research.

The occasion also honoured colleagues, past and present, who have been central to the development and success of the oncology service both in the clinic and the research front.

Dr Robert Rintoul commented: “It is important that we take the time to celebrate and honour the fantastic work that has taken place over the last 21 years.  Papworth Hospital has played a key role in a number of developments in Thoracic Oncology and I look forward to the future growth of the service when we move to the new hospital.  

“Co-localisation on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus with Cambridge University Hospital and a number of research institutes including Cancer Research UK Cambridge centre will create new opportunities for collaborative work in research, education and delivering world-class patient care.”  

As a response to long delays in diagnosis and surgical treatment of lung cancer, Mr Francis Wells, Director of Thoracic Services in 1995, set up the Two-Stop Clinic, linking Papworth Hospital with Addenbrooke’s, Hinchingbrooke, Peterborough, Bedford and West Suffolk Hospitals. Two months later the pioneering lung cancer unit was officially opened at Papworth.

For the first time, patients could be referred from surrounding chest clinics for a programmed investigation day, to then be brought back to a multidisciplinary clinic where their diagnosis was given and management planned. 

In the first year of service, 98% of patients were referred within 10 working days, and the average wait from significantly lowered from 109 to 35 days.  The Papworth service was one of the first multidisciplinary services that has since been widely adopted by oncology services across the UK.

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