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ICR and Marsden Honoured with Oncology Award


Friday 9 October 2009


A programme to improve cancer pain management has won The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in collaboration with The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust recognition for the Best Professional Education Initiative at this year’s Pfizer’s Excellence in Oncology Awards.


In the same ceremony at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) conference in Birmingham this week, two ICR and Royal Marsden scientists received commendations for their work: Dr Susana Banerjee in the British Oncological Association Young Investigator Award category and Dr Rosalind Eeles and her team in the Best Patient Support Initiative Award section.


The educational CD ROM Breaking Barriers, developed by Catherine Dunbar and her team at the ICR’s Interactive Education Unit (IEU), aims to teach healthcare professionals about the latest advances in pain management for cancer patients. The programme has already been distributed to almost 2,000 clinicians worldwide.


Ms Dunbar, Assistant Director of Academic Services (Publications), says: “I am delighted and honoured to receive Pfizer’s Excellence in Oncology Award, which is testament to all the hard work of our team. Whilst the ICR is best known for its scientific advances in the fight against cancer, this is one of the many initiatives we run that help to educate professionals with the ultimate aim to provide cancer patients with high quality care and treatment.”


“It is estimated that up to 90 per cent of all cancer pain can be managed, but half of all patients in Western countries still do not receive adequate pain relief. There is therefore a real need for a consistent approach when managing pain in cancer patients and our Breaking Barriers programme has been developed to incorporate the very best advice available on this topic. The more we improve healthcare professionals’ understanding, the more we can help people living with cancer.”


Launched in 2008, Breaking Barriers describes accurate ways of measuring pain, drug and non-drug treatments that may assist in pain management and how to tailor treatments to individual patients. It also highlights how different healthcare professionals - such as doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and psychologists - can work together, and stresses the need for improved communication with patients to help overcome their fears related to pain and its management. It is the first CD ROM to combine such depth with a user-friendly interface, and includes animations, videos and interactive elements to rapidly educate and assist the user.


The panel of judges said: “This educational programme is excellent, an outstanding initiative that deserves to be recognised. Due to the success and quality of delivery, it has the potential for national roll out.”


Dr Susana Banerjee, Avon Clinical Fellow, was commended for her research on the biological significance of VEGF, a molecule important for the growth of cancer blood vessels. Dr Banerjee investigated its role in breast cancer patients developing resistance to hormone treatment. Dr Banerjee is a medical oncologist training at The Royal Marsden Hospital and joined the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre at the ICR in 2005.


Dr Rosalind Eeles and her team were recognised for their work at their BRCA Carrier Clinic, which provides specialist care for families harbouring a mutation in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These genes increase people’s risk of developing breast, ovarian and prostate cancers, so the clinic ensures mutation carriers receive support and screening. It runs in conjunction with an integrated research programme to find new screening methods and markers.


The Pfizer Excellence in Oncology Awards, currently in its fourth year, aims to promote best practice in oncology in the UK. Awards are given each year to individuals and teams who have shown innovation, integrity, leadership, and teamwork.



Media Contact: Jane Bunce or 020 7153 5106 or after hours 077217 47900


The Institute of Cancer Research

The Institute of Cancer Research is Europe’s leading cancer research centre with expert scientists working on cutting-edge research. In 2009, the ICR marks its 100 years of groundbreaking research into cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. In December 2008, the ICR was ranked as the UK’s leading academic research centre by the Times Higher Education’s Table of Excellence, based on the results of the Higher Education Funding Council’s Research Assessment Exercise. The ICR is a charity that relies on voluntary income, for more information visit


For more information on the Breaking Barriers Project visit the ICR's Interactive Education Unit website.


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