29/02/2012

Cancer Charity Launches Urgent Funding Appeal

Northern Ireland charity Men Against Cancer today launched a new funding drive to raise £400,000 which it says is urgently needed to support local research efforts to combat the growing incidence of male cancers - particularly prostate cancer.

Around 800 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in Northern Ireland every year. The disease is the second most common cause of cancer-related death in men, accounting for more than 200 deaths annually in Northern Ireland.

The organisation, which is headed by local businessman Eric Cairns, made its appeal at a special one-day symposium co-sponsored by the Men Against Cancer Foundation. The Prostate Cancer symposium was officially opened by Health Minister, Edwin Poots.

Speaking to over 200 cancer experts from across Britain and Ireland and around the world, Minister Poots said: "As many as one in four people may develop cancer at some point in their lives, therefore cancer research is vital to the future of healthcare. Research helps us to identify causes of cancer and develop strategies for prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care.

"I also commend the findings of the Cancer Registries in Northern Ireland and the Republic that have indicated differences in the rates of diagnosis and patient survival for prostate cancer. The Registries are a great model for how the responsible use of routinely-collected patient data can help us to plan and organise health services."

The Health Minister also acknowledged the vital role that charities, community and business groups have to play in the fight against cancer. He said: "I congratulate Men Against Cancer, who have worked hard to raise awareness and support research on prostate cancer. They have already raised over £1.2m to establish a treatment unit in Belfast City Hospital that is dedicated to men’s cancers with a strong emphasis on prostate cancer. This has already had major impact on Urological Cancer Services in the Greater Belfast area."

Guest speakers at the symposium included global authorities on prostate cancer from as far away as the Queensland Institute of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts and the Royal Marsden in London. Three researchers from the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen's University Belfast will present the findings of the clinical trials and scientific studies that have been conducted in Belfast.

Current projects that have been assisted by MAC include research into the use of gold nanoparticles to enhance the effectiveness of radiotherapy in treating prostate cancer and providing the early funding to support the introduction of a prostate brachytherapy service at the Belfast Hospital Trust two years ahead of its scheduled launch. Future funding will help support projects conducted by the multi-disciplinary research team lead by Prof Joe O’Sullivan and Dr David Waugh at Queen’s University. One of these projects will seek to identify means by which clinicians can more accurately predict which prostate cancers are likely to develop into more aggressive disease, and thus more effective.

(GK)

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