World Cancer Day 2021 – a year of Liverpool research

Today marks World Cancer Day 2021 – a day that unites people, communities and entire countries to raise awareness and take action.

Despite the global pandemic, it’s been a busy year for cancer research in Liverpool as our scientists continue to work on cancer prevention, screening, diagnostics and therapeutics for the benefit of cancer patients.

Here, we round up our cancer research news stories from the past 12 months.

Cancer and COVID-19

In April, researchers from the Liverpool Head and Neck Centre joined an international research collaboration to establish whether operating on head and neck cancers was safe for both patients and clinical staff in the COVID-19 era. Professor Richard Shaw and colleagues in the COVIDSurg-Cancer Collaborative examined information on 1,137 patients with head and neck cancer undergoing potentially curative surgery in 26 countries. Their study, published in the journal Cancer, found that this surgery is safe for patients even when lengthy and complex.

In September, Liverpool researchers launched a new UK study to assess the impact of COVID-19 on people with cancer. The Clinical Characterisation Protocol (CCP) CANCER-UK project is running over 12 months and examining questions that are important for the care of patients with cancer. The study will also determine COVID-19 infection and mortality rates in people with different types of cancer, as well as those receiving different treatments, by collecting and analysing patient data.

Specialist cancer hospital

June saw the opening of the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre – Liverpool, a major specialist cancer hospital that brings together cancer experts from the NHS and the University on the same site in the city’s Knowledge Quarter. The hospital delivers a wide range of highly-specialist cancer care and has significantly enhanced the opportunity for collaborative leading-edge cancer research, including early-phase clinical trials of new treatments.

Immunology cancer research

In November, the University and local NHS partners announced a major new programme of immunology cancer research. World-leading experimental cancer researcher Professor Christian Ottensmeier was appointed to lead a team of interdisciplinary researchers as part of a strategic investment to drive forward cutting-edge patient relevant research in the region.

Breast cancer treatment

January saw the publication of a study by Professor Carlo Palmieri and colleagues that found new evidence about the positive role of androgens in breast cancer treatment. The findings were reinforced by positive data from a phase 2 trial of enobosarm, an androgen receptor activating agent for the treatment of oestrogen receptor-positive (ER-positive) metastatic breast cancer, which were presented by Professor Palmieri at the 2020 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in December.

For more information about World Cancer Day please visit