SOUTHAMPTON researchers have celebrated the first phase of a radical new study that aims to improve life for the millions of people living with cancer.

Until now the needs of those patients who have completed their treatment have been neglected, with the focus on discovering pioneering new drugs and boosting survival rates.

But the Macmillan Survivorship Research Group at the University of Southampton is changing all that, with this study that will give survivors the opportunity to get the best out of life and teach doctors how to boost a patient’s recovery.

This week survivors like Susan Restorick-Banks, from Totton, celebrated the pioneering step at the premier of a film about what the study is all about.

Susan was diagnosed with a tumour in her colon in 2011, enduring intense treatments, but she is now one of 1,000 patients taking part in the ColoREctal Wellbeing (CREW) study to help future cancer survivors.

She said: “It’s been really important for me to participate in this study. By speaking out and giving my views, I feel I’m contributing to the wellbeing of future cancer survivors and it’s really the only way researchers have of finding out how people like me cope.

“Whilst I’ve had a very supportive network around me, and have continued to enjoy life throughout my treatment, I know that other people going through cancer treatment can experience things very differently.”

The study, which focuses on those with colorectal cancer, will look at a number of factors influencing recovery including the time it takes a patient to return to feeling “well”, the length of time symptoms of treatment last and the range of things people can do to help to return to “normal” more quickly.

Results from this rigorous two-year study will, for the first time, inform health care providers and professionals across the country about what helps or hinders rapid and effective recovery and who has the confidence and ability to manage their own problems.

Dr Deborah Fenlon, senior research fellow at the University of Southampton and chief investigator for the research, said: “Macmillan is uniquely concerned with helping to improve the lives of people living with cancer, and for us it is absolutely imperative we understand the experiences of the two million cancer survivors in order to positively inform the professionals who interact with and support these survivors, helping them get the best out of life once treatment is over.”