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Moondance announces funding to improve cancer outcomes in Wales

Moondance previously funded the introduction of Transnasal Endoscopy to Wales at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

Moondance Cancer Initiative has announced more than half a million pounds is to be given to seven projects led by teams from across NHS Wales as part of its latest funding round to improve cancer outcomes in Wales.

Among the awarded projects is an innovation which introduces a new diagnostic test to Wales that could assist in earlier cancer diagnosis for patients with Barrett’s oesophagus. Cytosponge™ is a minimally invasive device that has been developed to collect cells from the oesophagus lining.

The Cytosponge™ is a small capsule which is attached to a fine string. After swallowing, the capsule coating dissolves in the stomach to release a small brush which when removed allows cell collection. These samples are then analysed for abnormalities. Regular surveillance among patients with Barrett’s oesophagus is important to ensure the condition does not progress to become oesophageal cancer.   Currently, patients under surveillance must undergo an oral endoscopy, but the sponge could offer an alternative diagnostic route which is not only more comfortable for patients but may also alleviate pressure on NHS endoscopy services.

This pioneering diagnostic tool is simultaneously being introduced in Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in a project previously funded by Moondance. These projects mark the first time this technology will be used in Wales, and it is hoped it will help bridge the gap between demand and service provision.

Leading the Cytosponge™ project for Powys Teaching Health Board is Dr Ruth Corbally, GP & Clinical Lead for Cancer Renewal Programme, she said: “Cytosponge™ is an exciting opportunity for Powys to offer earlier investigation, with a patient friendly test, to people with known Barrett’s Oesophagus on waiting lists for surveillance monitoring. Earlier diagnosis of oesophageal cancer increases potential treatment options and leads to better outcomes.

“The Cytosponge™ has potential to be offered closer to home in future, which is particularly important for rural communities.  We are very grateful to Moondance Cancer Initiative whose generous support is making the introduction of this diagnostic possible.”

Further innovations funded include a diagnostic liquid biopsy test, led by the All Wales Medical Genomic Service, which is used for suspected lung cancer patients to shorten the time to diagnosis and increase the number of patients that receive targeted therapy. Swansea Bay University Health Board has been granted funding to test the use of CanSense, a liquid biopsy test able to detect bowel cancer, in a strategic approach to the longest waiting colonoscopy surveillance patients

These projects have been selected by Moondance as part of the organisation’s Early Detection and Diagnosis Funding Call, which aims to accelerate the implementation of changes that will increase the number of cancers diagnosed at an earlier stage in Wales. The funding round saw a total of 34 proposals submitted with seven of those successfully chosen.

Moondance Cancer Initiative exists to find, fund and fuel brilliant people and brave ideas to make Wales a world leader in cancer survival. With this latest round of funding, there are now 26 active projects being funded by the Initiative across Wales, including the expansion of the Rapid Diagnosis Centre in Swansea Bay and the introduction of Transnasal endoscopy in Cardiff and Vale and Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Boards.

Prof. Jared Torkington

Prof. Jared Torkington, Clinical Director at Moondance Cancer Initiative, said: “We have the unique opportunity at Moondance to fund ideas that can have a tangible impact on earlier detection and diagnosis for cancer patients, and therefore help improve cancer outcomes across Wales. We know that waiting lists and referrals for cancer treatments are at an all-time high, so NHS Wales needs to think and do in a different way. Connecting with pioneers and supporting ideas like these is a step towards making Wales a world leader in cancer outcomes.”