St Mark's HospitalLondon North West Healthcare

History of the Polyposis Registry

The Polyposis Registry at St Mark’s Hospital represents possibly the longest running research project in the world. It began in 1924 when a Pathologist, Dr Cuthbert Dukes, and Mr J.P. Lockhart-Mummery, a surgeon, discussed some patients they thought to be both interesting and rare. These patients not only had multiple polyps in the bowel but also a family history of bowel cancer.

Dr Dukes was already involved in the science of polyps and cancer, and in his laboratory at St Mark’s he set the groundwork for much of the science that continues today. Mr Lockhart Mummery added to this his knowledge of recording family histories and together they set up a formal system for collecting information. They were helped by Dr Dukes’ laboratory assistant, the young HJR Bussey. This young man developed such a fascination for polyposis that by the 1960s he had been awarded a PhD for his work in polyposis and become world famous for his knowledge about the condition.

In those early days, St Mark’s Hospital was supported by voluntary contributions but today it is, of course, part of the National Health Service (NHS). The NHS does not, however, support research into polyposis. The money for this comes from charities such as Cancer Research UK and the St Mark’s Hospital Foundation.