Professor Karol Sikora is a world respected oncologist and campaigner for better universal cancer treatment. He studied medical science and biochemistry at Cambridge, where he obtained a double first. After clinical training he became a house physician at The Middlesex Hospital and registrar in oncology at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. He then became a research student at the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology in Cambridge working with Dr. Sydney Brenner, the Nobel Prize winner.
Karol's forty years experience as an oncologist has taught him that the effectiveness of treatment is more important than the organisation behind its delivery. While he still remains a Consultant Oncologist at Hammersmith Hospital, where he was Clinical Director for over 15 years, he launched Cancer Partners UK, Britain’s largest independent network of innovative cancer treatment centres in 2009. Building on his experience as Chief of the World Health Organisation’s Cancer Programme between 1997 and 1999 and an adviser to the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, he has also formed Cancer Partners International, which builds more affordable cancer centres in the developing world. His current major project is the creation of a network of Proton Beam Therapy centres in the UK and abroad, funded by private equity.
Throughout his career as an academic and a practising oncologist, Karol has realised the importance of tailoring treatment specific to the needs of his patients by using the latest medical research. In 1992, he helped establish a major cancer research laboratory at Hammersmith, which was funded by the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. As a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and a Dean and Professor of Medicine at Buckingham University, Britain’s first independent university, he writes and lectures regularly on the use of biomarkers and surrogate endpoints by using molecular diagnostics to personalise therapy. His books have included Treatment of Cancer – the leading British postgraduate textbook for which he has been the senior editor for 6 editions spanning 30 years.
Karol has continually fought on behalf of patients' to have better access to new cancer drugs. In 2008, he was one of the main signatories of a letter to the Sunday Times, which forced the Government to review its policy of banning life-prolonging cancer medicines that are available to other cancer patients elsewhere in Europe. More recently he has campaigned and lobbied MPs on behalf of British cancer patients to have better access to precision radiotherapy, an effective form of cancer treatment which targets it in exactly the right place, while avoiding collateral damage to surrounding tissue.
Karol values treatment that does not overwhelm patients’ lives. Through his work at Hammersmith Hospital he helped to build a new Cancer Centre with enhanced patient day-care facilities. As Chairman of the “Help Hammer Cancer” campaign, he helped to raise £8 million – with a personal donation from the Queen - towards the construction of the new centre. He has introduced personalised supportive care strategies such as counselling and promoted greater transparency between doctor and patient. And at Cancer Partners UK he has built up a network of sophisticated treatment centres with high-end technology in a friendly environment with NHS contracts.
He is married with three grown up children. He enjoys hill walking, climbing and visiting old railways.
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