A PIONEERING Scottish bowel cancer researcher has pledged to use the £10,000 given to him in recognition of his work to help battle the disease.

Prof Malcolm Dunlop was named as winner of the Scottish Cancer Foundation prize – an honour which recognises excellence in care and prevention.

Along with his team at the MRC Human Genetics Unit within the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, he identified a number of genes that are implicated in the development of bowel cancer.

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Scotland has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world with more than 3500 cases diagnosed every year, resulting in around 1600 deaths.

And when awarded with the five-figure sum tonight, Prof Dunlop will use the money to investigate new drug and nutrient approaches that may reduce the risk of bowel cancer taking hold.

He said: "I consider that the work we have been doing on a broad front over the last three decades has begun to make significant inroads into the burden of cancer in Scotland, as well as further afield.

"We can look forward to further exciting advances by exploiting new functional genomics technologies aligned with genome editing approaches to unravel the causes of cancer.

"The ultimate aim is to prevent the disease through combating the processes that are hijacked by cancer cells. The prize fund will be used to further these exciting new approaches in the lab, but with a keen surgical eye on gaining tangible benefit for people."

Prof Dunlop's genetic research has already proved successful in detecting the disease at an early, treatable stage in hundreds of patients. By operating to remove cancer in its early stages, more serious later-stage disease can be avoided.

His aim now is to find new ways to prevent the disease, which is at least as much a priority as finding more effective treatments.

The Edinburgh research has already found that vitamin D and low dose aspirin, which are both cheap and readily available, may have a beneficial role in preventing bowel cancer.

From there, the next stage will be to test if these and other potentially promising agents can halt progression of the disease.

Prof Dunlop has also played a leading role in formulating guidance used throughout the UK and further afield for the detection and surveillance of bowel cancer. In addition, the Lothian Colorectal Surgery Unit, which he developed, has some of the best cancer survival rates in Europe.

Professor Bob Steele, the chairman of the Scottish Cancer Foundation, said: "The research being led by Malcolm Dunlop places Scotland in the vanguard of international efforts to combat bowel cancer. He is a very worthy recipient of our annual prize which was set up to recognise excellence in reducing the burden of cancer in Scotland."

The Scottish Cancer Foundation prize is supported by the Grant Simpson Trust which helps organisations involved in the advancement of health.

The award to Prof Dunlop will be presented at the Scottish Cancer Conference at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh this evening.