Cutting-edge trials could help breast cancer victims

Irish researchers are carrying out 14 clinical trials to find-life changing breakthroughs in the treatment of breast cancer, it emerged today.

The Irish Cancer Society said cutting-edge therapies are being offered to women who take part in studies in universities and hospitals around the country.

One in 11 women living in Ireland will develop breast cancer during their lifetime – with 78% surviving for five years or longer.

Medics are attempting to prevent the recurrence of breast cancer in patients whose cancer is identified early and to slow the progression of cancer in those with advanced disease.

But oncologist Dr John Kennedy warned each trial has strict guidelines on who can take part.

“For example a trial might be for a certain age group, a particular type or stage of breast cancer or for breast cancer patients who have been on specific previous treatments,” said Dr Kennedy, of St James Hospital.

“Your consultant will have to assess whether taking part in a clinical trial is suitable for you and is in your best interests.”

Latest figures show nearly 2,500 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in 2007 – up 200 on the previous year.

The charity is holding Pink Ribbon Day tomorrow, its biggest fundraising event of the year in aid of Action Breast Cancer, with pink ribbons, pins and shopping trolley key rings on sale nationwide.

Dr Kennedy, of the All Ireland Clinical Oncology Research Group (ICORG) and principal clinical trials investigator, said the aim of the group was to promote, design, conduct and facilitate clinical cancer research on the island of Ireland.

“Basically this means that Irish patients are now being offered cutting edge research options and access to new cancer treatments that previously would only have been available in the United States and Europe,” he added.

“This means that cancer patients, including breast cancer patients are living for longer.”

During 2008, the Irish Cancer Society committed €2.9m to cancer research with €316,000 invested in pre-clinical breast cancer research projects.

Dr Bernadette Carr, of Vhi Healthcare which supports the fundraiser, said it is encouraging that despite the increase in breast cancer cases, survival rates are continuing to rise.

“This is due in no small part to increased awareness, earlier detection and to more extensive access to screening facilities in recent years,” she added.

“We believe that the research that is being funded by the Irish Cancer Society in this area is invaluable and will contribute significantly to the overall efforts to help reduce the impact of this disease.”

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