Family Should Realise That Early Diagnosis Saves Lives

by Gazette Reporter
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Liz Ferris

Why am I writing this piece as a cancer survivor? Am I any the wiser about an illness that took my sister, still might take me, took my husband’s mother many years before her time, took my best friend and if I was to talk about other people I know who are battling with cancer, I could fill this edition and many more publications with stories of how cancer has effected lives.

The good news is that there is health information everywhere and as importantly  healthcare people are so caring  and always willing to help when called on.

On a personal note, I can tell you that this has been my experience ever since I was first diagnosed way back in 2014. I was in the middle of Adult Education course when I found out and my husband, family and friends rallied around to support me in what I was doing before I was diagnosed.

When I graduated my family were proud not only because I passed my exams but because I didn’t allow breast cancer to define me or my lifestyle.

The NCRI (NATIONAL CANCER  REGiSTRY IRELAND ) is the state body that provides information about all types of cancer. NCRI works with all the hospitals to correlate  information about cancer in relation to the number of people who have cancer and the type of cancer they have. Information from Breast Cancer Ireland shows that survival rates are rising so early diagnosis is so important.

 The CEO of Breast Cancer Ireland, Aisling Hurley works hard at various initiatives to raise much needed funds fort such research as: ‘The Shamrock Trial’ which is about to commence in the new Breast Cancer Centre on the grounds of Beaumont Hospital.

  This new trial will focus on a subtype breast cancer, HER2 positive.   With this subgroup – the chances of a recurrence is roughly 30 per cent of cases. The new trial will look to use a fourth generation drug, combined with initial chemotherapy – and within a month, de-escalate chemotherapy completely.  They expect within 2-3 years to see a 100 per centresponse rate which will mean a CURE for this particular subtype!

One of the more challenging aspects is in relation to Metastatic disease progression – to the brain.  Metastatic disease occurs where the cancer cells lie dormant, evading initial treatment – then reactivate and travel within the blood stream into other major organs of the body.   Clinical Trial drugs are available and help with metastases to organs like the liver, lungs, spine etc but the brain, being the largest and most complex organ is problematic and requires ongoing significant investment.

Our BCI Research Team together with the world renowned Ludwig Breast Research Centre at the University of Chicago are working together to try to identify novel pathways to block the cancer cells from penetrating the brain.  This research is ongoing to a very high level.

In addition BCI funds a Fellowship into Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) with Queens University in Belfast.  TNBC is an aggressive breast cancer subtype that tends to affect younger women.  If diagnosed, these women have to firstly consider their fertility and potentially freeze eggs – as the only treatment available currently is the age-old regime of Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery.  The team in Queens are looking to identify novel newer drug therapies that could replace chemotherapy, avoid all the toxic side effects and treat the disease successfully.

Facts On Women’s Cancer In Ireland

* 3700 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed annually

  • 1 in 9 women are diagnosed in their lifetime
  • 23% are under the age of 50!
  • 1 in 1000 men are also diagnosed – breast cancer doesn’t discriminate
  • Survival rates are improving from previous 73% to current 85%
  • Mortality rates are reducing by 2% annually – this is key!
  • Newer sophisticated blood tests allow for more personalised and tailored treatment plans – no longer a ‘one treatment fits all’ approach
  • 50% less patients requiring chemotherapy as a result

  • Next Week Focus Will Come From An Oncologists Viewpoint. 

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