Today (4 February) is World Cancer Day. We’re taking this opportunity to highlight the incredible range of treatment and care that is offered across the Royal Free London for people affected by cancer, as well as our latest developments in research.


Early action leads to better outcomes

Professor Derralynn Hughes, clinical director of research innovation at the RFL and co-clinical director of the North Central London (NCL) cancer alliance said: “Despite the pandemic, our cancer teams are here for our patients. Diagnosis and treatments are still going ahead, and we encourage people to come forward to get help if they have any concerns or cancer symptoms to ensure they get care as soon as possible.”

It may be nothing serious, but finding cancer early makes it more treatable. The NCL cancer alliance has a range of resources on offer for supporting people who may be concerned about symptoms. Find this here.


Cutting edge trials at the RFL clinical research facility

2021 saw the opening of the RFL clinical research facility (CRF) which provides dedicated space, equipment and expertise to conduct innovative research. Investigators from all specialties are using the facility to develop new treatments and further our understanding of disease.

CRF director, professor Tim Meyer, said: “This is the first World Cancer Day since opening up the RFL clinical research facility and it is already supporting a diverse range of groundbreaking cancer studies including the SYMPLIFY study which aims to identify cancer early through a simple blood test, and more complex trials which test new drugs for the first time in a variety of cancers.’’

Tim continued: ‘’The CRF offers our patients greater opportunities to participate in cancer research and access to cutting edge therapy.’’

The team is gearing up for more research, with 10 new cancer trials in the pipeline.

This year’s World Cancer Day theme focusses on how the healthcare community can ‘close the care gap’ and Tim reflects on how the facility will address health inequities: “The CRF has established a very enthusiastic patient and public involvement team group whose remit is to champion equality, diversity and inclusion, and ensure that the CRF delivers on a detailed set of objectives. This will ensure that the CRF is inclusive and serves the needs of our diverse local population.”


Macmillan Cancer Support at the trust

Here at the RFL, our staff work closely with the Macmillan charity to offer holistic care for patients. David Cullen, Macmillan lead for personalised cancer care, said: “We’ve seen a growing number of cancer support workers at the RFL over the past six months and this has already shown a huge impact on the delivery of personalised cancer care for our patients.”

Claire Marks is a cancer support worker at Chase Farm Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital. She said: “I work alongside specialist nurses and consultants to help address any concerns patients have after they have had their cancer diagnosis. I provide support to patients by carrying out holistic need assessments face to face, virtually, over the telephone and via emails.”

To mark this year’s World Cancer Day, staff at the Macmillan information and support centre have prepared gift packs for the trust’s cancer patients thanks to the support of Boots and TeaPigs. The pampering gift packs are being distributed today to patients in the Chase Farm Hospital chemotherapy day unit, the Finchley Memorial Hospital infusion suite and the Royal Free radiotherapy unit.

Laura, a Macmillan information specialist based at Chase Farm Hospital, explained the reasons behind this gesture: “COVID-19 has been tough for everyone, but especially for cancer patients having treatment. We want our patients to know that we understand how difficult it is for them, and we just really want to do something nice for them.”

We also saw the return of the hair loss advice service for RFL patients with cancer,  organised through the Macmillan cancer information and support centre at Chase Farm Hospital. This service is provided by the charity Cancer Hair Care, who provide advice and support on all aspects of hair loss, scalp changes and hair care including coping with scalp cooling and explaining hair loss to children.

The hair loss advisers offer socially distanced consultations on most Fridays (10am-2pm), alternating between Chase Farm Hospital and Finchley Memorial Hospital. For more details, please call: 0208 375 2247 or visit 


Shoulder to shoulder with the Royal Free Charity

We are incredibly grateful to the Royal Free Charity who are there for our cancer patients. As well as offering ‘check-in and chat’ calls and clinical massage services for patients undergoing treatment, the charity also fund cutting-edge cancer research to find new treatments with potential to benefit patients here and around the world.


Maggie’s centre coming soon

Maggie's is a national charity which provides support to people with cancer, their families and friends. Maggie’s centres are built in the grounds of specialist NHS cancer hospitals and offer social, emotional and practical help to those whose lives are affected by cancer. We’re delighted that the building of a Maggie’s centre is underway at the Royal Free Hospital. Keep an eye out for more developments.