West of Scotland Cancer Surveillance Unit
The West of Scotland Cancer Surveillance Unit (WoSCSU)
The WoSCSU was formed in 1972 by Professor Charles Gillis. Its work on the importance of specialist care has influenced the organisation of cancer services into Managed Clinical Networks both in the UK and internationally. The Unit is funded by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and also receives substantial research grants through the University of Glasgow. Its work therefore encompasses providing information directly to NHS clinicians, managers and policymakers to help improve the quality of care they provide as well as research papers and presentations at conferences that advance the scientific understanding of cancer.
The main skills of the WoSCSU are to
- work with clinicians, health service managers and policymakers to identify clinical priorities
- manipulate and combine very large databases on cancer survival
- carry out specialist statistical analyses (Cox proportional hazards models, relative survival, funnel plots, and others)
- interpret results and communicate them to colleagues
Improving survival from cancer
Survival from most cancers has improved greatly over the past 25 years. However, cancer survival in the United Kingdom is generally not as good as in other European countries. Some variations in survival have also been identified across the west of Scotland. These differences are sometimes due to patient characteristics (such as age or sex), cancer (such as stage or type), or treatment.
The principal work of the West of Scotland Cancer Surveillance Unit is to help to improve the quality of cancer care. Good quality health care should be effective, acceptable, efficient, accessible, equitable and relevant. Most of our work focuses on whether services are effective in improving survival after a diagnosis of cancer, but we contribute to understanding all dimensions of quality. This includes understanding the harms as well as the benefits of cancer treatment. We work with specialists in several common cancers (e.g., lung, prostate, colorectal, ovarian, and breast) as well as primary care.
Living with cancer
An increasing number of people are alive after a diagnosis of cancer – partly because survival has improved and partly because larger numbers of cancers are being diagnosed. It is therefore important to be able to predict which patients might require more intensive follow-up and which patients may not need continued specialist care. We also need to understand what lifestyle changes might help to improve survival.
The West of Scotland Cancer Surveillance Unit contributes to a range of research programmes to help answer these questions. These include collaborations with
- the Academic Unit of Surgery at theUniversityofGlasgow, on how inflammatory factors predict survival
- theUniversityofStirling, on how a diagnosis of cancer may be a catalyst to changing lifestyle factors for the better
- the Glasgow Sleep Centre, on whether patients with breast cancer are likely to suffer from persistent insomnia
Understanding the causes of cancer
Cancers are the second commonest causes of death in western countries. About 40% of cancers are caused by smoking, poor diet, alcohol, obesity, sunburn and lack of exercise. This means that lifestyle changes are well worth making. But it also means that the causes of most cancers are still not known.
The West of Scotland Cancer Surveillance Unit analyses information in large follow-up studies (such as MIDSPAN, Whitehall, and the Asia Pacific Cohort Studies Collaboration) to help identify and quantify risk factors for cancer
Obesity has increased steeply in many western countries since the early 1980s. It is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and many cancers. It may also increase the risk of a second cancer in the same patient.
In addition to quantifying how obesity might increase the risk of developing chronic diseases, the West of Scotland Cancer Surveillance Unit specialises in evaluating the effectiveness of weight management programmes. We bring skills and experience from working in clinical trials units to the collection and collation of new data and the analysis and presentation of results. We have evaluated various Counterweight weight management programmes and continue to produce activity reports for general practitioners, pharmacies and the Scottish Government Health Department, which currently funds most Counterweight services. We work with Glasgow and Clyde Weight Management Service to evaluate the effectiveness of their programme
Tel: +44 141 330 3281
Fax (Departmental): +44 141 330 5018
Email: David S Morrison, Director: David.Morrison@glasgow.ac.uk
Staff in WOSCSU
David Morrison's Publications
David Morrison's Recent Grants and Current Projects