This innovative, cross-border research network brings together experts from all over the Island of Ireland. This includes researchers from six major academic institutions across the two health jurisdictions, as well as patients, clinicians and industry, to work together to significantly improve Irish cancer survival rates.
The Oesophageal Cancer Fund has come on board as a funding partner for the first phase of this programme where the focus is Oesophageal Cancer and funding innovative research to improve early detection and outcomes for patients with, or at risk of, developing the disease.
The new all-island collaborative structure will provide research-led innovation addressing key gaps in knowledge across the Oesophageal Cancer patients journey from cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment to survivorship. This will led to new cancer prevention strategies, lifestyle interventions and identify those at risk of disease progression and identify new treatment approaches for these patients.
Oesophageal Cancer is one of the biggest cancer challenges on this island with a 5-year survival rate of just 24% in the Republic of Ireland, meaning just 1 in 4 people diagnosed will survive 5 years. In Northern Ireland, the survival rate is even less at 19%. Ireland and the UK are reported to have the highest incidence of oesophageal adenocarcinoma worldwide.
The collaboration links six major academic institutions - Trinity College Dublin, Queen’s University Belfast, University College Cork, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, University College Dublin, and University of Galway - along with their associated hospitals, the National Cancer Control Programme and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.
This extraordinary cross-border collaboration will enable for the first time the sharing of data from the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland Barrett’s Oesophagus registries (over 34,000 patients) to answer important epidemiological studies using one of the largest platforms available worldwide for studying this disease.
With AllCaN, it will be possible to identify if potential inequalities exist across demographics, healthcare systems and patient outcomes and how lifestyle factors and medications influence reflux symptoms and progression. Lifestyle interventions will be tailored to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. The collaboration with industry will help ensure that discoveries that could help identify people at risk of progressing to Oesophageal Cancer or who will benefit from a particular treatment, progress quicker into the clinic.
“Reducing mortality from Oesophageal Cancer will be achieved mainly by both prevention and early diagnosis of cancer in the most at-risk population, the common condition of Barrett's oesophagus, and this collaboration of clinical and scientific expertise in an all-island consortium creates a powerful new structure towards tackling this objective.”
Holly was a young, healthy and active music teacher who loved to play hockey when she was diagnosed with stage 4, terminal Oesophageal Cancer at just 26 years old. Determined to continue fighting, Holly was accepted into a clinical research trial where after 3 months, her cancer was no longer present.
“The only reason that I’m still alive today is because of research into this cancer which is funded by charities like the OCF. The work that you do in fundraising for the OCF has very tangible, real effects in the everyday lives of people like me. Thank you.”