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Blood Health

Outlook for blood cancer patients improves


John McCormack

Chief Executive Officer, Irish Cancer Society

Every year, around 1,500 people in Ireland are diagnosed with blood cancer – an umbrella term for cancers that affect the blood, bone marrow and lymphatic system.

“Overall, these conditions make up around ten per cent of all cancers in Ireland, and are the fourth most common cause of cancer-related deaths,” explains Mr John McCormack, Chief Executive Officer of the Irish Cancer Society. Yet, survival rates have almost doubled over the last two decades for some of these cancers, largely because we understand the disease better and we have improved means to fight it.”

Concentrating cancer expertise

A number of other factors appear to have contributed to the improvement in survival observed in recent years. Arguably one of the most important is the fact that since 2006 cancer patients in Ireland have been screened, diagnosed, treated and followed-up in a small number of larger designated hospitals and a satellite centre, he explains.

More personalised treatments

Mr McCormack would like to see more blood cancer patients being offered early stage clinical trials.

 “It’s worth pointing out that the Irish Clinical Oncology Research Group (ICORG) provides opportunities for all the doctors and many of the nurses who are involved in diagnosing and treating cancer to work in a collective manner, to make sure that new clinical trials are brought to Ireland and patients can access them.

“In the long run this will enable clinicians to provide more personalised treatment options, based on the individual characteristics of each patient and the genetic make-up of their cancer, further improving the likelihood of positive outcomes.”

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