Oncology

Breast Cancer Awareness Month at Spirit Group; an informative talk on risk and prevention by Dr Michelle Harvie, and lots of pink-themed fundraising!

Breast cancer is the biggest cause of death of women aged between 35 and 49, and roughly 55,000 people are diagnosed every year. This means that 1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, as well as around 1 in 1000 men.[1]  In recognition of the widespread reach of this illness, Spirit…Read more »

Breast cancer is the biggest cause of death of women aged between 35 and 49, and roughly 55,000 people are diagnosed every year. This means that 1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, as well as around 1 in 1000 men.[1]  In recognition of the widespread reach of this illness, Spirit Group has spent the past month taking part in a number of charitable and educational activities for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Kicking off the charitable activities in the Spirit Group offices, our Operations Assistant Becky attended a talk at Alderley Park hosted by research dietician Dr Michelle Harvie and fundraising representatives from Prevent Breast Cancer, the sole UK charity dedicated to researching the prediction and prevention of breast cancer. They are based at The Nightingale Centre in Wythenshawe, Manchester – the only breast cancer prevention centre in the UK.

The talk centred around breakthroughs in diagnostic treatments, inspirational stories of the women fighting cancer on the front lines and also how we can best improve our chances of avoiding the cancer altogether.

Whilst women are biologically predisposed to the risks of developing breast cancer – and some women are more susceptible due to genetic factors – Dr Harvie explained that Western culture and lifestyle have had a major impact on the increasing rate of breast cancer. She outlined how simple lifestyle changes could prevent up to 25% of cases:[2][3]

  • Control your alcohol intake – it’s recommended you drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week.
  • Avoid smoking – the risk of developing breast cancer appears to be greater if smoking begins at a younger age, and particularly before having your first-born child.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – a 3-stone weight gain can double your chances of developing breast cancer.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet – include lots of fruit, vegetables, lean protein and wholegrain carbohydrates whilst reducing saturated fat and added sugar.

Finally, Dr Harvie stressed that she wanted weight loss and management to be an affordable, attainable target for women looking to better protect themselves against breast cancer. Her research in the area has resulted in the emergence of the increasingly popular Intermittent or 2-Day Diet, in which dieters adopt 2 ‘fasting’ low-calorie days into their weekly schedule whilst eating freely (albeit sensibly) for the rest of the week. The results have been incredibly successful, with ~7 in 10 dieters successfully losing weight and maintaining weight loss. More information can be found in Dr Harvie’s book The 2-Day Diet: Diet Two Days a Week. Eat Normally for Five.[4]

It’s clear that Dr Harvie and everyone at Prevent Breast Cancer are continuing to work tirelessly to improve screening procedures, pursue research into genetic vulnerabilities, and campaign and raise money for services that will better protect women from breast cancer. Their work is truly inspiring!

To celebrate and support the great work being done by breast cancer charities such as Prevent Breast Cancer, we painted the town pink with our rosy-hued garments for the Wear It Pink Campaign on Friday 18th October. Everyone wore their brightest clothing into the Spirit Group offices for a pink party, complete with a pink-themed drinks trolley! A few of us were surprised at just how many pink items we owned…

We also competed against one another in a pink-themed quiz, featuring questions that ranged from Grease’s Pink Ladies to the pink city of Jaipur.

It’s been a fantastic month learning about the latest oncological innovations taking place in Manchester and helping to raise awareness and money for leading breast cancer charities – and we’ve been doing it in style, as you can see from our pink-filled picture!

[1] About Us. https://preventbreastcancer.org.uk/about-us/ (Accessed 30 October 2019).

[2] Diet and Lifestyle. https://preventbreastcancer.org.uk/breast-cancer-research/research-projects/diet-and-lifestyle/ (Accessed 28 October 2019).

[3] Causes and Risk Factors. https://preventbreastcancer.org.uk/about-breast-cancer/causes-and-risk-factors/ (Accessed 29 October 2019).

[4] The 2 Day Diet. https://preventbreastcancer.org.uk/2_day_diet/ (Accessed 29 October 2019).

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Spirit join the entrepreneurs vs. Cancer at MCRC

Spirit’s Rosie (Client Services Director) and Caroline (Principal Medical Writer) recently joined some of the North West ‘s most successful entrepreneurial companies and individuals for a unique view on how the world’s leading researchers, based in Manchester, are fighting cancer using state-of-the-art techniques, novel approaches and inspiration from unexpected areas. Three world-renowned Cancer Research UK…Read more »

Spirit’s Rosie (Client Services Director) and Caroline (Principal Medical Writer) recently joined some of the North West ‘s most successful entrepreneurial companies and individuals for a unique view on how the world’s leading researchers, based in Manchester, are fighting cancer using state-of-the-art techniques, novel approaches and inspiration from unexpected areas.

Three world-renowned Cancer Research UK scientists spoke about their cutting-edge research at the MCRC (Manchester Cancer Research Centre), one of the world’s top scientific research facilities.

Allan Jordan, Crispin Miller, and Steve Bagley explained how insights from computational biology, artificial intelligence, and ecology can help us better understand and treat cancer.

Allan’s talk on advances in drug discovery, informed us that the Cancer Moonshot plan originally proposed by Richard Nixon and recently updated by Barrack Obama is within our grasp and Manchester is a leading player in the project . He also advised on a need to change the way we do research “we need to stop trying to find patients for trials, but find trials for patients”

Steve’s talk on advances in imaging showed that we are now able to probe the structure of individual DNA strands, while Crispin’s talk on ‘big data’ provided great insights into the complexity of cancer research: “Our research generates terabytes of data every day” and “Analysing big data means figuring out what’s a coincidence and what’s a meaningful interaction!”

After the presentations actress Sally Dynevor, better known as Sally Webster in Manchester’s top TV soap “Coronation Street”, spoke eloquently about her experiences as a cancer patient and survivor and quizzed the scientists about exciting advances in immunotherapy.

The event was well received and Caroline and Rosie had the opportunity to speak to the presenters and understand more about how Manchester’s involvement in the global drive to turn cancer into a chronic disease, “a thing that people live with, not die from”.  We’ll be following the Cancer Moonshot project closely and look forward to sharing further insights.

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