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Boost for cancer trials across Northern Ireland

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by Cancer Research UK | News

13 November 2006

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A new team of nurses will improve access to cancer clinical trials across Northern Ireland – adressing the current concentration on Belfast.

Cancer Research N. Ireland and the Research and Development Office for the Health and Personal Social Services in Northern Ireland are placing five new research nurses in cancer units to co-ordinate and help run cancer clinical trials in breast, lung, colorectal, prostate, bladder and haematological cancers.

Funding has been confirmed initially for six years to allow the nurses to focus completely on cancer clinical trials. The investment will help Northern Ireland continue its world class research while improving treatment for all cancer patients and building on the success of the current trials unit in Belfast.

The nurses will help raise awareness of new cancer clinical trials among medical teams and cancer patients. It is hoped this increased awareness will translate into improved recruitment onto clinical trials. Patients throughout Northern Ireland will now have a greater opportunity to learn about new clinical trials and receive better support if they choose to participate in a trial.

Improved recruitment onto clinical trials speeds the pace of research. Clinical trials that recruit patients faster can report their findings sooner. New knowledge from trials develops better treatments more quickly.

Taking part in a clinical trial means patients may be able to receive a new treatment not available outside the trial. Cancer patients taking part in a trial often find the experience rewarding knowing they are helping to shape the best treatment for patients in the future.

Ruth Boyd, Cancer Research N. Ireland Senior Nurse at the N. Ireland Cancer Clinical Trials Unit, Belfast City Hospital, said: “This is great progress for cancer patients across Northern Ireland. More patients should have the opportunity to take part in new trials. These new nurses will provide information, care and support for cancer patients who want to take part in a clinical trial based at a Cancer Unit close to their home. The nurses will be an excellent resource for cancer patients.”

Kate Law, clinical trials director at Cancer Research N. Ireland, said: “Clinical trials are vital in cancer research. All potential new treatments are thoroughly tested in the lab first but we then need to find out how well they work in people. Without clinical trials, we wouldn’t know which drugs work best to prevent and treat cancer.Cancer Research N. Ireland is committed to increasing the number of patients offered the opportunity to join a clinical trial. By participating in trials, individuals can play a more active role in their own care and help others by contributing to research.”

Professor Robert Stout, Director of Research and Development for the Health and Personal Social Services, said: “Clinical trials play an essential role in health and social care research. We are delighted to work in partnership with Cancer Research Northern Ireland to increase research capacity and to improve patient care. Cancer is one of a number of new clinical research networks we are building and these new cancer research nursing posts provide a great boost for health and social care research and the creation of our new research networks.”


For media enquiries please contact Paul Thorne in the Cancer Research UK press office on 02070618352 or the out of hours on 07050264059.