One in three spend 45 hours a week caring for cancer patients

Louise McSharry at the launch of the Make Blood Cancer campaign.

One in three people spend the equivalent of a full working week or more caring for a loved one living with cancer.

Carers can spend more than 45 hours a week looking after someone with cancer and one in five also manage to hold down a full or part-time job.

It also emerged from the research to mark Blood Cancer Awareness Month that nine out of 10 people living with blood cancer highly value the care they receive.

A Make Blood Cancer Visible campaign launched yesterday is aimed at increasing awareness of blood cancers and support those affected by the disease.

It is the result of a major collaboration between the Irish Cancer Society, Multiple Myeloma Ireland, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia Ireland and Janssen Sciences Ireland.

The campaign’s ambassador is Louise McSharry, who was diagnosed with Hodgkins’s Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, in 2014.

Ms McSharry’s husband, Gordan, was by her side during her treatment and that meant a lot to her.

I know from my own blood cancer journey how much my husband’s help and support meant to me and how important it is for people going through the diagnosis and treatment to have the support of partners, relatives and friends to help them through this scary and difficult time,” she said.

Ms McSharry said the campaign had created a video series so people affected by blood cancer could get information about the services and supports available for them.

Consultant haematologist Peter O’Gorman said huge strides had been made in the treatment of many cancers. He pointed out that multiple myeloma survival had doubled in the past three years because of new treatments.

“The message is one of hope and progress for patients with blood cancer in Ireland,” he said.

Meanwhile, researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have discovered a ground-breaking therapeutic process that can target and kill bowel cancer cells.

The discovery may improve survival rates for bowel cancer patients.

The three-year research project, published in the Journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, focused on an aggressive sub-group of colon cancers known as “BRAF mutants”.

Lead researcher Nicholas Forsythe said people diagnosed with a BRAF mutant cancer had a very poor prognosis.

Our research has identified a cellular process that can be exploited in order to kill these cancer cells,” said Dr Forsythe.

“Essentially, we can take advantage of the aggressive biology of these cancers and use it against them.”

Dr Forsythe said they used a specific combination of drugs to stress the cells to a point where they could no longer survive.

The researchers are to hold further clinical trials to identify a novel drug treatment regime.

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