Video: Breast cancer patients to benefit from pioneering developments in treatment and research

Findings of an ongoing, international, clinical trial where 50% of patients on a dual therapy programme saw their tumours disappear are just one of a number of positive developments on research, diagnosis and treatment that Breast Cancer Ireland is keen to share on World Cancer Day, Saturday, February 4.

The arrival of a new sophisticated tissue test, the Oncotype DX, has allowed for more tailored personalised treatment options for patients. Each case is personal and as a result there are significantly less patients requiring chemotherapy as part of this process.

In addition, the provision of new surgical treatments such as a new innovative radiotherapy machine that reduces radiation treatment time for certain breast cancer patients, from daily doses for five consecutive weeks to a single 30 minute treatment, is speeding up patient recovery time and improving quality of life for certain patients with the disease.

Mr Colm Power, Surgeon, and Dr Orla McArdle, Radiation Oncologist, led the team of doctors, physicists, radiation therapists and nurses who introduced the technology to Ireland for the first time.

Commenting on the INTRABeam System, leading breast cancer surgeon Mr Power says “For appropriate patients, this form of radiation therapy can have a huge impact on both the duration of breast cancer treatment and quality of life during what is invariably a difficult time. The outlook for patients with breast cancer has been improving year on year, primarily because of more effective targeted therapies aimed at specific types of breast cancer. The INTRABeam System is an example of how tailored treatment can revolutionise cancer care for certain patients. This innovative approach could radically change treatment for carefully selected patients at Beaumont Hospital.”

Survival rates have increased from 75% to its current rate of 82% and this is as a direct result of better screening and increased education and awareness. The mortality rate from breast cancer has declined significantly (2% per year since 1994) according to the findings from the National Cancer Registry (2016) which stated that trends for increasing survival and decreasing mortality are largely due to ongoing improvement in targeted therapies for treatment. 

Breast Cancer Ireland, the charity established to raise significant funding to support pioneering research programmes nationally, as well as to promote education and awareness on the importance of breast health amongst women of all ages, is keen to share these positive developments, significantly around this reduction in the rate of mortality from the disease.

On World Cancer Day, Breast Cancer Ireland gratefully acknowledges the support of those who work tirelessly to fund pioneering work in the research labs as well as ongoing support for clinical trials. The funds raised though initiatives supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, the Great Pink Run and the many national, regional and local events around the country are improving the outcomes for over 2,800 women who are diagnosed with this disease each year. Investments in awareness and education programmes are helping to make women more breast-aware at a younger age and this awareness will ultimately save patient lives.

Professor Arnie Hill, leading breast surgeon and Chairman of Breast Cancer Ireland says, “Discovery times in our labs have greatly improved as a direct result of increased investment in research, and we are coming ever closer to our aim of transforming breast cancer from often being a fatal disease to making it a treatable condition that can be managed long-term.”

Aisling Hurley CEO of Breast Cancer Ireland said, “We are making great inroads in research through the collaborative initiatives established amongst the eight designated cancer centres. Working together as a combined unit allows access to greater volumes of patient samples thereby speeding up our discovery output and bringing newer and better medicines and treatments to patients faster.”

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