Ongoing Project

Tackling Cancer Inequalities

A £5 million programme of research to tackle cancer inequalities in Hull, with the aim of improving diagnosis, treatment and care and importantly outcomes.

Project summary

The Challenge

More people in Hull develop and die from cancer than anywhere else in the UK, with the highest incidence among the elderly and socially-deprived.

The Approach

Our research explores how to reduce inequalities, speed up referrals, and improve access to care and treatment, focusing largely on early diagnosis.

The Outcome

We are affecting an increase in early referral of patients and ultimately improving successful treatment and reducing cancer deaths.

Lead academics

Funded by

Project partners

The Challenge

Current statistics show that some 565 people are diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire every week. Incidence and mortality rates in the county are higher than the England average.

More specifically, and for all cancers combined, NHS Hull has more men and women developing and dying from cancer than anywhere else in the UK. The facts and statistics are stark, but they’re by no means a cause for submission – far from it.

Cancer incidence, mortality and survival rates are often worse for those living in Yorkshire than across England as a whole, and they are especially bad in Hull. The picture worsens for the elderly and for those from socially-deprived communities. These research projects help us understand why these differences exist, and how to reduce inequalities, speed up referrals, and improve access to care and treatment.
Professor Una Macleod

Professor Una Macleod

Dean and Professor of Primary Care Medicine

The Approach

Yorkshire Cancer Research has awarded the University of Hull and the Hull York Medical School (a collaboration between the universities of Hull and York and the NHS) £4.9 million to deliver major research to improve cancer survival rates and care in Yorkshire through the project: TRANSFORMing Cancer Outcomes in Yorkshire.

An additional grant of £712,500 has also been awarded for research into diagnosis and intervention of lung cancer.

The two grants are the latest of dozens to have been awarded to the University and Hull York Medical School in relation to cancer research.

Previous grants have been awarded for research into improving the care of those with chronic lung conditions; for investigation into new treatments for head and neck cancer; and for studying ways to approach drug-resistant cancers.

Collectively, the research enabled by grants over the years has radically changed the life chances of people in the region living with cancer, and it continues to do so.

Research carried out at the University of Hull continues to substantially impact the ways in which cancer is understood, diagnosed and treated.

The Impact


Professor Una Macleod, Dean of the Hull York Medical School, has been leading research into whether changes in general practice could contribute to an overall improvement in cancer survival. There is evidence that, for a number of cancers, poorer outcomes can be directly related to delays in the initial diagnosis – and hence referral and treatment.

The work that Una and her colleagues have done has included an innovative approach to improving practice by systematically reviewing cases where a delay in diagnosis has occurred. The findings of the research have since been adopted by the Royal College of General Practitioners to roll out a national pilot, with the aim of increasing early referral of patients and ultimately improving successful treatment and reducing cancer deaths.


Professor Mike Lind, Professor of Oncology, Hull York Medical School, and his research colleagues have an established track record of research into cancer, specifically lung cancer. The findings of recent studies into non-small-cell lung cancer to which Mike and his colleagues contributed are already shaping the way lung cancer surgery is delivered in the country.

The team also researched the second most predominant lung cancer type (small-cell), identifying that surgery was of higher benefit in earlier stage cases than previously identified. The findings are likely to influence NICE guidelines and change practices in treatment.

Click here for more information about our Tackling Cancer Inequalities project.