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Cancer Trials Ireland calls for cancer drug trial participation to double to 6%

Around 650 people with cancer join a cancer drug trial each year and Cancer Trials Ireland wants to double this to 1,300 each year.

To mark International Clinical Trials Day (20 May), Cancer Trials Ireland is rolling out its ‘Just Ask Your Doctor!’ campaign. The campaign is designed to encourage people living with cancer to ask their doctor if there is a relevant cancer trial that they can join to enhance their treatment options. Alternatively, people can visit its new website where they can access information about cancer trials and a full list of trials currently underway in Ireland.

Speaking at the launch, Prof Bryan Hennessy, Clinical Lead with Cancer Trials Ireland and Consultant Oncologist at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin said: “Cancer trials find treatments that stop people dying from cancer, they enable patients to get treatments not available by other means and they save the HSE more than €6 million annually in cancer medication costs. With a more stable economic outlook and one-in-three of us affected by cancer in Ireland, it is time for the Government to increase its commitment in Budget 2018 to cancer trials research by at least €2.5 million annually. We also want the Government to mainstream cancer trials as one of an array of treatment options for all who have been diagnosed with cancer. Cancer trials must not be seen as an outlier in the treatment of cancer.”

There are currently almost 100 cancer trials recruiting patients in Ireland. A further 50 trials are under way but have completed their recruitment phase. There are up to 6000 patients involved in all of these trials.

Presently there are trials ongoing in the following areas: breast cancer (17), melanoma (2), genitourinary cancer (11), lung cancer (6), head and neck cancer (1), paediatric (24), central nervous system (2), GI cancer (11), gynaecology cancer (5), haematology and lymphoma (13) and translational (3).

The numbers of clinical trials covering all therapeutic areas open in Ireland, and consequently the number of opportunities for patients, lags behind European counterparts. Denmark, which has a similar population size, conducts over four times as many clinical trials as Ireland. Norway also has a similar population and carries out twice as many clinical trials.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Ms Eibhlin Mulroe, CEO, Cancer Trials Ireland, said that Ireland had huge growth potential in cancer trials: “Cancer Trials Ireland works with the foremost oncologists and research specialists across the country who are highly experienced and skilled in trials research. Combined with the commitment of those participating in our trials, and Brexit, we have a tremendous opportunity to step up our cancer trials capability and make a greater contribution to the global pursuit of the answers to cancer. There is a huge opportunity for us to attract many more trials from other parts of the world which can open up new treatment options for people with cancer that are currently not available, and at a relatively low cost. This International Clinical Trials Day, we are encouraging all who are living with cancer to Just Ask Their Doctor about cancer trials and whether there is one that is suitable for them and to visit to access a full listing of trials that are currently underway in Ireland. Participation is hugely important.”

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