On World Cancer Day Cancer Focus Northern Ireland announced a massive £300K investment in pioneering research at Queen’s University Belfast.
The cash injection was revealed as the charity launched its new legacy campaign urging people to leave a gift in their Will to fund local, vital research, offering hope to cancer patients in the future.
The new research project will study pancreatic and oesophageal cancers, which at present have low survival rates. The five year survival rate for pancreatic cancer in Northern Ireland is 4.9% and for oesophageal cancer it’s 18.6%.
Retired Belfast banker Ivan McMinn was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer eight years ago and is a rare survivor. He said: “I am passionate about research into cancer, particularly pancreatic cancer. Research is making a real difference to the lives of many and I’m testimony to that.
“I’m supporting Cancer Focus NI by leaving a gift in my Will to help fund ground-breaking research being carried out here in Northern Ireland. Apart from providing for my family, I feel it’s very important for me to leave something that will help people in the future and I can think of no better way to do that than by supporting Cancer Focus NI with a gift in my Will.
“If it hadn’t been for past research I mightn’t be here today. I’m very thankful, life is precious and our health is our wealth.”
Making a difference
Roisin Foster, Chief Executive of Cancer Focus NI, said: “After family and friends, we’re asking people to think to the future and leave a legacy that will really make a difference.
“We know that as people live longer the incidence of cancer is rising and one in two of us can expect to get a diagnosis in our lifetime. By leaving a gift in your Will for research, you’ll know that you are leaving an important and meaningful legacy for the generations to come.
“Your donation will fund research carried out here in Northern Ireland and will give hope to local people affected by cancer.”
Dr Richard Turkington, Oncologist and Cancer Researcher at Queen’s, is leading the new research. He said: “This pioneering new project aims to determine how immunotherapy can successfully treat pancreatic and oesophageal cancers, two cancers which at present are hard to treat and have very low survival rates.
“The outlook for these patients has remained unchanged for decades partly due to lack of research and investment. Our researchers will work to understand why most pancreatic and oesophageal types of cancers are resistant to immunotherapy and identify which drugs can be used to help overcome this resistance so patients will respond positively to the treatment.”
He added: “Immunotherapy has transformed the outlook for specific cancers, such as lung cancer and malignant melanoma, previously thought to be relatively untreatable. We believe the same revolution can occur for oesophageal and pancreatic cancers.
“This new work will enable us to drive forward a new era of treatment. If successful it has the potential to save lives both here and across the world.”
Immunotherapy works by overcoming cancer cells’ ability to hide from the body’s immune system. It allows the patient’s own immune defences to identify and destroy cancer cells, but unfortunately it does not work for all patients. Therefore, there is a pressing need to understand why certain cancers are resistant to immunotherapy so new strategies and drugs can be developed and used to increase survival rates.
To be a part of pioneering local research, like this project, consider making a gift in your Will to Cancer Focus NI. There are a few simple steps to follow – find a solicitor, write your Will, make a gift.
For advice on how to do this or for more information visit www.cancerfocusni.org/gift or contact our Legacy Officer on 028 9068 0740.