Current activity

Our current research projects demonstrate our place as a leading Early Diagnosis and Detection Centre.

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There are several projects currently underway which fall under the early diagnosis and detection category. The projects are a mixture of portfolio, non-portfolio, commercial, non-commercial, sponsored / hosted, as well as research and clinical projects. The data from these projects will be used to enhance patient treatment and care and draw further grant funding from competitive national programmes.



Lung cancer is the biggest cause of cancer mortality in the UK and worldwide, costing the NHS £307 million each year in England alone. Earlier diagnosis is critical: current one-year survival reaches 88% in stage 1 compared with 19% in stage 4 disease; however, only 16% of all patients are diagnosed at stage 1. There are number of early diagnosis and detection studies in Lung around the theme of Artificial Intelligence and biomarker development, including lung health check and lung nodule AI and Biomarker studies (e.g. LIBRA, NIMBLE, AI-SONAR). For further information please contact:

Prostate and men's health

In the UK, about 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime.

Prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50, and the risk increases with age. The risk is higher for black men and men with a family history of prostate cancer.

Prostate work at The Royal Marsden is in collaboration with the ICR. The focus is predisposition to prostate cancer to identify those men with aggressive disease that need early treatment. Further details about early diagnosis and detection in prostate cancer can be found here.

Several projects are currently ongoing within Urology - the most important to note is the Man Van project, which is lead by Prof. Nick James. This project was created to raise awareness of prostate cancer and to diagnose prostate cancer at an earlier stage in harder to reach groups in the community via mobile van screening

Head and Neck Cancers

Head and neck cancer is a general term that covers many different types of cancer, which includes nasal and paranasal, mouth and oropharyngeal, laryngeal, oesophageal, salivary gland, tonsil, nasopharyngeal, throat and tongue cancers.

There are around 4,100 head and neck cancer deaths in the UK every year, which is around 11 deaths every day.

The Head and Neck Cancer Team at The Royal Marsden and the ICR are at the forefront of early diagnosis and detection work in Human papillomavirus (HPV) liquid biopsy work, which includes the Everest-HN Project which will explore risk stratified early diagnosis.


There are around 11,500 breast cancer deaths in the UK every year, which is 32 patients every day. Breast cancer is also the 4th most common cause of cancer death in the UK, accounting for 7% of all cancer deaths. In females in the UK, breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death, with around 11,500 deaths in 2018.

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers, with much progress in early diagnosis and detection. One of the major breast cancer prevention projects locally is the Pioneer study, which is pilot of randomised study of lifestyle in unaffected women.

Genetics and molecular biology

This includes understanding of genetics, epigenetics, genome integrity, metabolism, exosomes, stem cells, tissue physiology and early-stage cancer biology, how these interact with each other and their contribution to healthy and diseased states.

Genetics is one of the key strengths of the Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden, and includes several projects which focus on early detection of inherited cancers, which also remains a priority area for the Early Diagnosis and Detection Centre. Most important to note is the SIGNIFY project, which looked at whole body MRI in patients with Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS). LFS is an inherited familial predisposition to a wide range of certain, often rare cancers.

Collaborators/ stakeholders

Opportunities and training

Please get in touch with the Research Operations Lead, Shafa Ullah, to find out more information about current opportunities and training.