Spotlight on: Tom Roques, Consultant Oncologist
Our Oncology service is one of 60 nationally, providing treatment and care for patients with cancer. Tom Roques has been a Consultant Oncologist here for 19 years and has a national role as the Vice President for Oncology at the Royal College of Radiologists.
Tom sees patients with a variety of cancer types including head and neck cancer, thyroid, oesophageal and pancreatic cancer.
“The last few years have seen the faster development of better cancer treatments,” said Tom.
“We have more drugs we can give in a more targeted and precise way for individual patients which means we can keep them alive for longer. We also have better ways to target radiotherapy exactly where it needs to go. This means we can deliver stereotactic radiotherapy – giving radiation in large doses to precise targets to try and reduce side effects.
“We’re always innovating and looking at the development of new techniques and research is a big part of what we do.
“We have amazing teams of professionals who all play an important part in a patient’s treatment.
“For example, in head and neck cancer, which requires probably the most complex radiotherapy that we give, the doctor sees the patient in the outpatient appointment initially, then all of the treatment that we give, and ongoing care, is done entirely by therapy radiographers, specialist nurses, dietitians and speech and language therapists, who see the patient every week during treatment.
“We meet as a team to discuss progress and give a lot of focus to minimising any side-effects. This approach means that we tailor support for each patient and keep them at home during their treatment.”
In September last year, Tom became the Vice President for Oncology at the Royal College of Radiologists and the head of its faculty of Clinical Oncology.
“This is our professional body supporting the 1,000 oncologists working across the country,” he added.
“My role is to help explain to politicians and policy makers how important oncology is and to encourage investment and support for the oncology profession and patients. Another important part of the role is the support we give to oncologists to do their job as effectively and efficiently as possible.
“One of the projects we’ve completed was the National Radiotherapy Consent Forms project. In hospital patients sign a consent form going through the side-effects of radiotherapy.
“Each hospital had developed their own form individually and there was a lot of variation in how this information was being given to patients. Our project was to produce a set of national forms covering a number of cancers. We had input from patients, lawyers, risk specialists and doctors and radiographers.
“The national consent forms have been downloaded more than 30,000 times and have won a BMJ Award.
“We have several other projects like this under way to help reduce variation up and down the country and to avoid every cancer centre having to duplicate what others do.
“My involvement means we can share excellent practice in Norwich with teams around the country and we can also benefit from learning from others.”
Tom is a keen runner and involved in parkrun.
“I’ve run for 10 years and this year at the Colney Lane parkrun we’re trying to do a big celebration for the NHS 75th Birthday on 8 July.”