Kenneth Bagshawe made significant contributions to the study of both gestational and non-gestational trophoblastic tumours and was responsible for the first complete cure of advanced cancer in the 1950s. The combination of methotrexate and mercaptopurine remained the most successful treatment of choriocarcinoma for many years. It was replaced by drug combinations based on etoposide, resulting in the prevention of deaths due to most of these cancers.
He developed the first successful method of monitoring the progress of treatment by measurement of human chorionic gonadotropin, initially by bioassay and later by radioimmunoassay. This became a national screening programme for patients and had wide implications for following up treatment in other tumours. He therefore made an original and very important contribution in the diagnosis and treatment of what were previously fatal conditions. Kenneth later developed a selective form of chemotherapy known as ‘antibody directed enzyme prodrug therapy’ (ADEPT), which enhances the efficacy of treatment of other cancers.
Professor Kenneth Bagshawe CBE FRS died on 27 December 2022.