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West Midlands doctor bikes for breasts

A local GP registrar is on a crusade to improve breast cancer detection rates across the West Midlands.

Dr James Gill, who is also a teaching fellow at the University of Warwick, is holding a 2000km virtual cycling marathon to raise £10,000 for state-of-the-art medical training equipment.

Dr Gill said: “By training junior doctors, and medical students, earlier in their careers about recognising the signs of breast cancer, there is the greater opportunity to catch cases sooner and maybe save a patient’s life.”

At the moment most health professionals are trained using a basic plastic torso with breasts attached. However the new devices, which cost almost £1,000 each, have realistic feeling breast-like tissue. These allow students to acquire the delicate skills needed to conduct an examination and detect a range of abnormalities such as tumours, cancer related changes and cysts.

Currently the firm LimbsandThings has loaned Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick one of their models however Dr Gill plans to raise £10,000 to pay for at least 10 more pairs, which can be shared with local GP training schemes, used in public breast cancer workshops and loaned out to groups looking to promote breast cancer awareness.

His biking marathon, Biking4Breasts, will take place at the plaza on the University of Warwick campus starting early on Wednesday 14th October ending approximately 24 hours later on Thursday 15th October. Along with a team of volunteers, they will be aiming to cover the equivalent of 2000km which is 500km further than cycling John O’Groats to Land’s End.

To make the cycling seem more lifelike the stationary bikes will be hooked up to gaming software called Zwift which will simulate the same sensations as riding over real terrain - software now being used to simulate the road world cycling championships in Richmond, USA. In addition the University’s giant screen will be screening the virtual course they will be covering so they will be able to watch 3D versions of themselves riding and racing across the day

Dr Gill, who is a GP in the Wellesbourne practice, Warwick said: “I got the idea to raise the money following teaching sessions at the medical school, where it became obvious how difficult it is to teach what breast cancers feel like without having real patients which just isn't a viable for more than one or two students. Therefore I set out to find the best way to realistically simulate breast cancer off the ward and came across LimbsandThings.

“If a description of breast cancer is worth 1,000 words, being able to accurately recognise what a cancer might feel like is worth a library.”

Breast cancer is the commonest female cancer with 50,000 new diagnoses a year in the UK. In the West Midlands there are 4,200 are diagnoses every year but survival rates are below the national average. Dr Gill believes that improving the training and skills of both medics and the public in identifying breast cancer can help improve detection and survival rates.

To sponsor Dr Gill visit To take part in the cycling marathon email

The Biking4Breasts event is being sponsored with equipment and support from Zwift, Albany Cycles is providing the bikes for the challenge, and Wahoo Fitness, through Zwift, is providing the electronic turbo trainers which will be placed on the bikes.

james gill on a bike

For further details please contact Nicola Jones, Communications Manager, University of Warwick 07824 540863 or