Dr Alistair Ring, Consultant in Medical Oncology
Dr Alistair Ring
After qualifying in 1997, Dr Ring completed his oncology training at The Royal Marsden, St George’s and Guy’s hospitals in London. He became a consultant in 2008 before joining The Royal Marsden in 2014. Today, he specialises in all aspects of the medical treatment of breast cancer, and has a particular expertise in the management of metastatic and early breast cancer, and the management of cancer in older patients. Throughout his medical career, Dr Ring has been at the forefront of major research. He gained his MD research degree in 2005 from The Institute of Cancer Research, London (ICR) and has become the UK lead for a number of pioneering research studies.
Much of his work examines novel treatments and targeted therapies, more recently looking at the roles of aspirin and modern targeted drugs in managing breast cancer. Dr Ring continues to explore new treatment avenues with the aim of developing more effective personalised treatments that improve patient survival and quality of life. He is now working alongside researchers from the ICR on the plasmaMATCH trial, which aims to use blood tests to match breast cancer patients with the most effective treatments.
- 1991-97 Pre-clinical and clinical training at the University of Cambridge and University of Oxford
- 1997-2008 Undertakes oncology training at The Royal Marsden, St George’s and Guy’s hospitals, London
- 2008 Appointed Senior Lecturer in Oncology at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, where he was also appointed Director of the Brighton NIHR Clinical Research Facility
- 2014 Appointed as a Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden
- 2017 Editor of the textbook Breast Cancer Survivorship
Q How has the treatment of breast cancer changed during your career?
A There have been staggering advances in the field of breast cancer over the past 20 years. We have made major progress in the development of targeted therapies, thanks to a better understanding of the molecular abnormalities in cancer cells. This means we can offer patients more personalised treatment options, with reduced toxicity and better outcomes.
Q What services do you provide at The Royal Marsden?
A We have a talented multidisciplinary team. Patients benefit from a comprehensiveservice provided by national and international specialists. I work with patients from diagnosis to establish an appropriate and individualised treatment plan.
“Looking after the holistic needs of patients, and improving quality of life – during and after treatment – is key”
Q Why is early diagnosis of breast cancer so important?
A By improving the accuracy of early detection, we expect to see more and more patients surviving breast cancer. Early diagnosis requires a shift towards faster investigation and quicker responses to patients who present with symptoms, and we are engaged in a variety of services that offer this. Importantly, we aim to provide patients with fast and direct access to worldleading diagnostic experts, in an easily accessible and reassuring environment.
Q Why is research important for your area of expertise?
A We lead innovative research studies on a national and international scale, which we hope will lead to better survival and quality of life. I am currently leading three studies that could affect the routine management of the 50,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK. My expertise also lies in the needs of elderly patients with cancer. We are leading the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Bridging the Age Gap study, which has developed tools to help patients and doctors make more informed decisions about breast cancer treatment and increase the uptake of surgery and chemotherapy in older women with breast cancer. These tools are now being tested in a study involving more than 3,000 patients.
Q What does the future of breast cancer treatment hold?
A It’s crucial that we prepare the clinicians of the future, and I was recently lead editor on the Breast Cancer Survivorship textbook. It’s aimed at the next generation of oncologists, discussing the impact on patients of diagnosis and treatment of early breast cancer. Despite the incidence of breast cancer increasing, survival rates are also increasing. There are a number of reasons for this – largely early diagnosis, better surgical techniques and increasing use of adjuvant therapies. Looking after the holistic needs of patients, and improving quality of life – during and after treatment – is key. For those patients with advanced – or metastatic – breast cancer, our focus remains on controlling the cancer for as long as possible and maintaining quality of life. We also continue to investigate new options for when other treatment is unsuccessful.