National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Conference 2017


It was a great opportunity to attend the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) conference held at the ACC in Liverpool on 5 - 8 November 2017. The main aim of the conference was to bring together people who are involved in all areas of cancer research such as clinicians, researchers, statisticians, and industry and patient representatives to showcase and discuss the latest advancements. The program included plenary lectures on hot topics such as proton therapy and the role of lifestyle in cancer, talks on diverse areas of research including cancer genomics, immunopathology and drug discovery as well as symposiums, workshops, e-poster sessions, and networking events.

Seven abstracts were accepted for poster presentation from myself and other colleagues at the Centre for Statistics in Medicine (CSM):

My e-poster presented the results of the PACMEL trial. PACMEL trial was a randomised phase II study of Paclitaxel with or without Trametinib or Pazopanib in advanced wild type BRAF melanoma using an accelerated failure time model to consider the primary aim of Progression Free survival (PFS). The details of the abstract can be accessed in (

Cathy Qi's poster described the IntReALL SR 2010 study, currently 3.5 years into recruitment. This trial aims to compare the effects of two best performing chemotherapy protocols, and the agent Epratuzumab vs standard therapy on survival in children with relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (

Corran Robert’s poster on “OCTOVA: a randomised phase II trial of olaparib, chemotherapy, or olaparib and cediranic in patients with BRCA-mutated platinum-resistant ovarian cancer “ describes a trial early in recruitment (

Sharon Love’s e-poster on “Embracing model-based designs for dose-finding trials” gave tips on how to run a model based dose finding trial (

Sharon Love and Gavin Reilly’s poster on “Daily Aspirin 300mg: How much do patients take? Drug accountability for the first 5 years of the AspECT study” described the compliance of taking a drug that was not expected to have an instant effect over a 5 year period (

Sharon Love, Joanna Moschandreas, Peter Dutton and Pradeep Virdee poster on “Combined analysis of the FOXFIRE prospective randomised studies of first-line selective internal radiotherapy in patients with liver metastases from colorectal cancer” gave the primary results of the FOXFIRE trial

Sharon Love’s, Joanna Moschandreas’s, and Pradeep Virdee poster on “Quality of life in patients with liver metastases from colorectal cancer treated with first-line selective internal radiotherapy (SIRT): EQ-5D, EORTC QLQ-C30 and LMC21 results from the FOXFIRE study” gave the results of patient reported outcomes for the FOXFIRE trial

Corran Robert’s e-poster on “A Diagnostic Molecular Signature can Predict Response to Azacitidine Therapy: the Results of the UK Trials Acceleration Programme RAVVA study” described the impact of AZA based therapy on survival and leukaemic stem/progenitor cells (LSC) numbers, as well as identify molecular predictors of outcome in patients treated with AZA monotherapy vs vorinostat co-administration (

In the paragraphs below I will try to summarise each of the events I was able to attend.

The first session I attended was The beginners guide to cancer therapies: what are they and how do they work? It was a great talk by the public engagement manager of the Oncology Department at the University of Oxford, Martin Christlieb. This session covered all available therapies including surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy. It also discussed how cancer cells work, and what the various therapies are trying to accomplish.

One of the plenary lectures I attended on the second day (6th November) of the conference was the Results of the ProtecT trial by Freddie Hamdy, Nuffield Department of surgical sciences, University of Oxford. The ProtecT trial was a randomised, three arm trial where prostate cancer patients were randomised to surgery, radiotherapy or active monitoring, with an average 10 years follow-up. The ProtecT trial showed high rates of survival in all three treatment arms, though there were differences in the side effects. Freddie’s conclusion was that longer term follow-up (5-10 years) is needed to determine the “trade-off” between the short term effects of radiotherapy and surgery, the risk of disease progression and any long-term survival benefits. In the afternoon I attended part one of the Clinical trials showcase which included results from the AVAST-M, OPARATIC, NCRI Myeloma XI, BTC and NEW EPOC trials.

On the third day (7th November) I had the chance to attend a workshop held by one of the best speakers- Elaine Vickers, on De-mystifying today’s science. Elaine explained the terminology associated with cancer research, such as signal transduction, immune-oncology, genomics and biomarkers. Diagrams and illustrations provided a clear and easy way to understand explanations of complicated biological concepts. This was followed by the wonderful plenary lecture given by Annie Anderson, University of Dundee, on Lifestyle and cancer- who really cares? She discussed the strong evidence for the effect of lifestyle (tobacco, alcohol, obesity, diet and physical activity) on the aetiology of cancer and on outcomes following diagnosis of cancer, indicating that improvements in these aspects of lifestyle have significant potential for reducing disease incidence, morbidity and mortality. This plenary lecture was followed by another great speaker – Anthony Zietman from Massachusetts general Hospital, USA on Proton therapy in the USA: When advanced technology and economic reality collide, who said that the UK was on course to lead the rest of the world in the correct conduct of research in using proton therapy to treat cancer patients. In the afternoon there was part two of the Clinical trials showcase which included the FOXFIRE, SCOT, and mPDAC trials.

One of the best plenary lectures on the last day (8th November) was presented by Irne Higginson, Cicely Saunders Institute, Kings College, on the topic of Early integration of palliative care. She opened her session with a sober statistic: projected deaths from cancer in England and Wales will rise from around 144,000 a year in 2014, to around 209,000 a year by 2040. This is in the context of an ageing population and the fact that people increasingly have other diseases to deal with as well as cancer. She pointed out the meta-analysis of relevant studies and other key research studies of early palliative case show that it helps to improve quality of life, is likely to reduce depression, and may even also improve survival. Because of that, Irne concluded that we should provide early palliative care.

Last but not least, the NCRI 2017 conference was the first big conference I ever attended in the United Kingdom. It was a wonderful opportunity to develop the little knowledge I have in the area of cancer, and to learn about all the amazing research done so far and the future works as well.

The next NCRI Conference 2018 will take place in Glasgow (Scotland) from 4 – 6 November 2018. You can get more information