190 Irish Women at the Heart of the Battle against Breast Cancer

The Irish Clinical Oncology Research Group (ICORG) a charity-based organisation founded in 1996 by Irish hospital doctors who treat cancer is pleased to announce Irelands most significant contribution ever to cancer clinical research.Between November 1998 and June of this year 190 Irish women with early breast cancer agreed to participate in an international study in the course of their treatment. The aim of this study was to determine whether the drug, taxotere used in the treatment of advanced breast cancer would be of benefit to patients with earlier stage disease.

The study was designed by a group of leading international cancer doctors one of whom Dr John Crown, St. Vincent’s University Hospital was from Ireland. Aventis pharma the manufacturers of taxotere supported the study by providing free drug and contributing to the research funds of the hospitals that took part. These research funds are critical to the ability of an Irish hospital to participate in cancer research. The funds are a combination of these monies and charitable monies raised by hard working and generous Irish patients, their families and friends. Without this work this research could not have taken place. ICORG is very grateful to the Irish Cancer Society, these fundraisers and in particular to the Irish affiliate of Aventis pharma for its wide-ranging and ongoing support of cancer clinical research in Ireland.

At the end of the enrolment stage of the study Ireland proved to have the 5th highest patient participation rate in the world out of 46 countries, with two Irish hospitals (St. James’s and St. Vincent’s University Hospitals) among the world leaders in terms of the numbers taking part. All together nearly 3,000 patients from 174 hospitals around the world participated. Another important positive aspect of Irelands contribution was the very high quality of the scientific data captured by all of the 7 Irish research teams.

In all breast cancer sufferers attending Beaumont, Bons Secours Cork, Galway, Mater, St. James’s, St. Vincent’s and Waterford gave up their time and agreed to allow the results of their treatments be compared to the others around the world. This selfless gesture will enable the international community of cancer doctors to decide whether this drug is of benefit and therefore if it should be given as routine treatment to many hundreds of thousands of women with early breast cancer each year.

ICORGs purpose as an organisation is to attract international research programs to Ireland. In doing this it enables Irish hospitals to participate in leading edge cancer clinical research. This in turn allows Irish patients contribute to important medical questions and in doing so often means that they get access to the very latest cancer drugs.

It is hoped that the success of this study will be a platform for the expansion of cancer clinical research activities in these and other Irish hospitals. If this happens the patients who participated in this study will have indirectly contributed to the ability of all Irish cancer sufferers to have access to a clinical research option.

The first results of the study will be published next year.

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