07/04/2004

Health meeting to tackle cancer scourge

Northern Ireland's Chief Medical Officer today met with leading figures from the American Cancer Society to discuss how cancer prevention, treatment and research could be benefited from greater collaboration.

Dr Henrietta Campbell said today's meeting was one of the significant benefits arising from the American/All-Ireland Cancer Consortium.

Since the establishment of the Cancer Consortium between Ireland and the National Cancer Institute in America in 1999, scientific, medical and nursing scholars have been to the US to share knowledge and expertise through the scholar exchange programme.

In addition, links have been established with leading cancer organisations in America such as the American Cancer Society, a nationwide community-based voluntary health organisation dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem.

Dr Campbell said: "By pooling our resources and working in partnership, we will be better able to develop our understanding of how to prevent and treat cancer. Today will help us foster this partnership approach and learn from the important initiatives already taking place in the two countries in how to further develop our cancer prevention, treatment and research strategies."

Commending Professor Patrick Johnston, Interim Scientific Director of the new Centre for Cancer Research at Queen’s University, and the medical, nursing and scientific community for their dedication and commitment to research and the clinical trials programme, Dr Campbell said: "We have now established over 30 clinical trials at Belfast City Hospital, involving the recruitment of 250 local patients annually. Developments at the cancer centre at Belfast City Hospital, together with the new cancer research centre at Queen’s University, are putting Northern Ireland in a strong position to contribute greatly to the multicentre clinical trials organised in the United States through the Consortium."

Participating in the discussions, at Parliament Buildings, were leading representatives from the American Cancer Society, Action Cancer, the Ulster Cancer Foundation, Cancer Lifeline and cancer patients. Leading cancer researchers and health professionals from Northern Ireland also joined in the debate to develop the partnership approach to cancer prevention, treatment and research.

(MB)

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