Alison Birtle

Consultant Clinical Oncologist Alison BirtleJob Title: Consultant Clinical Oncologist and Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer

Department: Cancer (oncology)

Telephone Number: 01772 524762

Primary Medical Qualifications: MB BS MRCP FRCR MD

Other Qualifications: BSc

Year of Registration: 1992

GMC Number: 2674862

Career History: General medical and specialist registrar oncology training undertaken in London Charing Cross and Westminster. MD Thesis completed at the Institute of Urology, University College London, and Academic Urology Unit, Royal Marsden Hospital. Currently working as a Consultant Clinical Oncologist for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Specialist Areas: Prostate, testicular and bladder tumours

Specialist Interests: Chemotherapy of urological tumours; targeted therapy; radiotherapy developments

Research Interests: Member NCRI prostate clinical study group and bladder clinical study group. Phase 2 and 3 studies of systemic therapy in urological cancers, chemoradiation and radiotherapy advances in urological tumours; survivorship

Clinics: Oncology Clinic

Languages Spoken: English

Awards and Prizes: Distinctions in MBBS in pathology, obstetrics, medicine, and clinical pharmacology; Humphrey Arthurer prize for final MB BS; Geoffrey Pegrum memorial fund travel scholarship; British Medical & Dental Students Trust Award for Elective Study; 3M Healthcare Award for Elective Essay; Best scientific paper, British Association of Urological Surgeons annual meeting (2005); Best clinical paper, British Prostate Group (2004); Royal College of Radiologists Annual Scientific meeting junior forum presentation prize (2000); Appointed Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer University of Manchester (2007) 


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Bladder Cancer Deserves Urgent Attention

Action on Bladder Cancer LogoIt is the 4th most common cancer in men1 (and 11th in women), but bladder cancer remains an extremely low priority in the UK. Action on Bladder Cancer2 (ABC) reports that almost half (45%) of the UK public do not know that even just one episode of blood in the urine, the most common warning sign, could mean bladder cancer. Smoking is the most common cause of bladder cancer and yet 95% of people are not aware of this. ABC calls for much stronger recognition of bladder cancer amongst the general public and the medical profession in order to prevent avoidable deaths.

ABC welcomes a recent paper3 which highlights the paucity of clinical studies in bladder cancer compared with other cancers with a similar incidence. Well-designed randomised controlled trials usually provide the strongest evidence possible regarding the efficacy of new diagnostic tools or interventions and yet studies into bladder cancer are comparatively few and those that have been performed are under-utilised.

Dr Alison Birtle, Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer & Consultant Oncologist, Preston; ABC Trustee and Chair of the NCRI Clinical Sub Group on Bladder Cancer says, “Bladder cancer is not just one disease. As our medical understanding is growing, we need to be tailoring information accordingly for patients, so that they receive sufficient information on their condition to be involved in making informed choices about their care options. The type of information that someone with low risk bladder cancer will need is very different from someone who has been diagnosed with very late stage disease”.

A more robust framework of support is needed for all patients and ABC is supporting new initiatives to improve the lives of people with bladder cancer. One example is a new group being set up by NHS Lothian in South East Scotland with Maggies, Macmillan and (SCAN South East Scotland Cancer Network).

Mr Param Mariappan, Consultant Urologist, NHS Lothian and Regional Advisor to ABC says, “The focus of the South East Scotland Support Group is an ‘out of hospital’ service for those affected by bladder cancer to share and learn from others with similar experiences. Supplementing the care provided within the healthcare setting, this group is being established around a ‘buddying system’ and workshops specifically tailored to different states of the disease. Over and above what we do as Clinicians, extended care is critical for a patient with cancer. I term this CIS (Communication, Information and Support) - Our Support Group looks to bring individuals together who can help others likely to go through a similar experience of care”.

Mr Brian Sibbald O.B.E. who has been affected by bladder cancer and involved in the beginnings of the Group says, “At the moment, because of my treatment, I don’t have cancer, but I feel I am still on a journey. To me, it is important to find ways, such as a dedicated support group to share and reassure others who are more recently diagnosed with bladder cancer”.

Over 10,000 people are diagnosed every year in the UK and ABC, the only UK charity dedicated to bladder cancer, wants to encourage more people to understand more about the disease. Up to date information on the disease and advice on how people can help raise awareness is available through the ABC website ( The work of ABC supports the Be Clear on Cancer Campaign run by the Department of Health as well as Bladder Cancer initiatives organised throughout the US during May-July 2013.

Mr Colin Bunce, Chair of ABC and Consultant Urologist in Barnet says: “The profile of bladder cancer and, as a result, the care of patients can be significantly improved by asking the public and healthcare professionals and providers to become involved in our dedicated Charity, ABC ( - we want to work together”.

1.  Cancer Research UK, Cancer Stats Key Facts, Bladder Cancer cuments/generalcontent/crukmig_1000ast-2778.pdf
2.  GfK NOP Survey on bladder cancer for Action on Bladder Cancer, April 2012
3.  Bassel et al. (2013). Demographic analysis of randomized controlled trials in bladder cancer. BJU International 111:3;419-426