10/09/2001

Health Minister emphasises co-operation on cancer

The Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Ms Bairbre de Brún, has emphasised the importance of worldwide co-operation on cancer.

At the launch of an International Blood and Bone Marrow Transplantation Seminar at Belfast City Hospital, Ms de Brún said: "Of course cancer is an international problem and it is only through collaborative working, sharing research, knowledge and new developments that we will beat it. Seminars such as this, where we share our knowledge and expertise, discuss problems, pool ideas and develop solutions are crucial to the development of better patient services with improved outcomes and quality of life."

Addressing the Seminar, which was attended by 50 delegates from 11 European countries, the Minister said: "Haematology is an area of medicine where there have been enormous advances in treatment. Fifty years ago, someone diagnosed with leukaemia, myeloma or Hodgkins Disease would have only months to live. Treatments available today mean that now 50% of patients can be cured, with many enjoying a vastly improved quality of life."

Referring to the All-Ireland international agreement with the National Cancer Institute in the US, Ms de Brún emphasised Belfast City Hospital’s key role in research and scholar exchanges.

She said: "The results of joint clinical trials for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukaemia between Belfast City Hospital and Dublin’s St James’ Hospital will help to improve diagnosis and assess appropriate treatments. A better outcome for people with cancer is a local and international goal."

The Minister also said Belfast City Hospital’s new bone marrow transplantation unit will enable patients to have the most advanced treatment available, including bone marrow transplants, without having to travel to other centres.

The new unit, which will open its doors later this month, will have six dedicated beds for bone marrow transplantation.

Each year about 500 patients in the province are diagnosed with haematological cancer, including diseases like Hodgkins lymphoma, leukaemias and myelomas.

At the new unit local patients will be able to rapidly receive a bone marrow transplant from donors in other countries at the Belfast City Hospital. (SP)

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