Professor Malcolm Mason Retires02 Aug 2016
After 30 years as a Clinical Oncologist and 12 years as the Director of the Wales Cancer Bank, Professor Malcolm Mason retired at the end of May. His vision and determination secured funding from Welsh Government in 2003 and the WCB was born in 2004.
In the twelve years since, Prof Mason has seen the WCB grow from an idea conceived in a pub on the back of an envelope, to an internationally renowned biobank that nearly 13,000 cancer patients have agree to be part of. The cancer bank started in three hospitals and consented the first patient in January 2005. By 2012, the activity had expanded into eleven hospitals and biosamples from 34 different tumour types were being collected, processed and made available to cancer researchers worldwide. Samples have been used in research projects as far afield as S Korea and Canada and around a third of patients who have donated samples to the biobank have had their samples used in at least one research project.
The existence of WCB was instrumental in Cardiff becoming one of the clinical hubs for the Cancer Research UK Stratified Medicine programme in 2011. This programme has become the screening phase for the lung Matrix trial, which is now open to recruitment in Velindre hospital. Without the foresight of Professor Mason back in 2003 (along with Professors Julian Sampson and David Wynford-Thomas — fellow pub attendees!) this trial would not be available in Wales and many patients would not have had the opportunity to take part in research by donating their sample to the Wales Cancer Bank.
A life in prostate cancer
Malcolm Mason graduated from St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London in 1979 and trained in Oncology at the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden Hospital.
He has had a varied and busy career combining clinical responsibilities with research activities. Since arriving in Cardiff in 1992, as well as looking after patients, he was the Dean of Research in the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences in Cardiff University, the Cancer Research Wales Professor of Clinical Oncology at Cardiff University and he is a past Chair of the UK National Cancer Research Network Prostate Cancer Clinical Studies Group. He also works for the Union for International Cancer Control on their TNM programme for cancer staging, for which he is the Chair of the Evaluation Committee, a member of the Core Group, and the Chairman of the UK National TNM Committee. He has served on a variety of Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK committees as well as international committees for organisations such as the National Cancer Institute in the USA and the European Association of Urology.
He has been responsible for several practice-changing national and international clinical trials in cancer, most notably the recent intergroup study which demonstrated that radiotherapy could halve the mortality from locally advanced prostate cancer, and was instrumental in the STAMPEDE trial which demonstrated a 22-month survival benefit with chemo-therapy for advanced hormone-sensitive prostate cancer.
The event of Professor Mason’s retirement was marked with a ‘Prostate Cancer Research Symphony’, held in the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in July 2016. The afternoon combined two of Malcolm’s passions— prostate cancer research and classical music! A host of renowned prostate researchers gathered to pay tribute to Malcolm’s achievements and to celebrate his career. The musical theme was carried throughout the talks with titles such as ‘Hitting the Right Notes: Trials of Personalised Medicine’ and ‘Setting up the Orchestra: The Early Prostate Cancer MDT’. Prof Mason delighted the audience by taking to the piano to play Franz Liszt’s ‘Un Sospiro’ (A Sigh).
You can watch the video of Malcolm’s performance on YouTube at: