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Home » Oncology » Putting patients at the heart of cancer advancements

Mairead McCaul

Managing Director, MSD Ireland

Today, there is more hope than ever before for those who receive a cancer diagnosis. Patients have more options available to them to treat their cancers and are surviving for longer.

Despite the progress being made, cancer isn’t going away. The number of annual cases of cancer in Ireland is expected to almost double by 2040 and the situation has been further complicated by COVID-19 and the full impact it has had on Ireland’s health system.

The good news is that there is still much which can be done to support patients in the fight against cancer and the quality of care within our health service is improving all the time.

Improving cancer outlook

MSD have been in Ireland for more than 50 years and in that timeframe outcomes for cancer patients have dramatically shifted. New treatments, increased awareness of cancers and timely diagnoses have led to improved patient outcomes.

The patient is at the centre of all that we do at MSD. We are proud that our medicines are supporting patients in their battle against cancer throughout Ireland and across the globe.

Putting the patient first

Looking at some of the great innovations which have taken place to support patients, doctors are now able to target tumours with more than one treatment at once, using different mechanisms of action to increase the chance of a patient’s cancer being kept under control or even cured.

Treatments are also becoming more targeted as doctors can use biomarkers and gene sequencing to determine which patients have the best chance of responding to particular medicines. This not only increases the chances of a positive outcome for the patient; it also allows healthcare system resources to be used more efficiently.

Figures show approximately 45,000 people across Ireland receive a cancer diagnosis every year.

Innovations require access

However, innovation without access is meaningless. Despite making potentially life changing treatments here in Ireland, we’re still lagging behind many of our European counterparts. No patient should have to hear that a potentially beneficial treatments might be available to them if they lived in another country. Especially when many of these treatments are made right here in Ireland.

We at MSD, as well as the wider industry around us, recognise that innovative medicines can present affordability challenges to healthcare systems. We want to work with the Irish Government to come up with solutions that work for both patients and the health service alike.

Collaboration with patient organisations

We also regularly collaborate with patient organisations on campaigns focused specifically on raising awareness about cancer, particularly when it comes to cancer prevention. We have supported several campaigns to try and strengthen the voice of patients across Ireland by supporting health literacy and fighting the stigma some diseases and cancers unfortunately still carry to this day.

This includes working with the Marie Keating Foundation as co-sponsors of the Making Moments Matter campaign. The initiative saw patients and families from all over the country tell the stories of significant moments in their lives since being diagnosed with lung cancer or losing a loved one. Further, we’ve collaborated with NALA (The National Adult Literacy Agency) and the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) to produce several health literacy awareness videos to support cancer patients and their families.

Helping people through challenging times

Figures show approximately 45,000 people across Ireland receive a cancer diagnosis every year. A cancer diagnosis is news that nobody wants to hear and represents one of the toughest challenges a patient, their loved ones can experience in a lifetime.

At MSD, we are committed to supporting all those touched by this disease in any way we can. We firmly believe that the most important thing we make is a difference, which is why we are so passionate to remain at the forefront in the fight against cancer in Ireland.

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