Health

Saturday 23 August 2014

Cancer cure 'just years away'

CURES for a range of previously deadly cancers are just years away, a leading researcher has claimed.

Prof Gerard Evan, who predicted that the next generation would not have to worry about dying from cancer, told a conference in Dublin that the disease would be "eradicated in the next 30 years" if research and funding continued at the current level.

The world-renowned biochemistry professor said: "We're on the cusp of a true revolution. We don't fully understand – in fact we're not close yet to understanding – what's gone wrong in every case. But we know now what can be done. This is the first time in the history of humanity that we have known we can find cures for cancer."

He added that "libraries" of information that will lead us to developing cures and better treatments for cancer are now accessible to us and that future generations will no longer fear the disease.

"All the information is there, we just need to make sense of it and put it together and work out how to manipulate it in the right way," he said.

"They (young people today) will not fear cancer in the way that our generation has feared cancer or previous generations as the disease comes out of nowhere striking down our nearest and dearest (and) where the treatments are so awful. Instead, cancer will be, if not completely curable, than a containable disease."

However, he stated this could only be achieved through investment in cancer research, and faith in those conducting the research.

"There will always be some types of cancer that are more difficult to treat than others, but by and large cancers will be containable.

"But they won't be if we stop doing the research we're doing."

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The Cambridge research expert concluded: "Together we're going to eradicate cancer."

The conference, organised by the Irish Cancer Society, was a public event to raise awareness of current research methods.

As part of the event, two cancer researchers gave presentations on studies they had conducted in the field.

Dr Britta Stordal was afterwards judged winner of the Irish Cancer Society 'Researcher of the Year' award for her study and presentation on the BRCA gene.

RTE presenter and advocate Evelyn O'Rourke, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, encouraged cancer patients to sign up for clinical trials and research conducted into developing cures and treatments for the illness.

"We want people to think about taking part in trials. That's a big leap. It's a leap of faith . . . but it's something we'd love for people to start thinking about," she told the Irish Independent at the conference.

Broadcaster Ray D'Arcy, who acted as MC, said the recent remarks by Prof Evan are the "most exciting" he's ever heard in the fight against cancer.

"This man is a world- renowned scientist; he's not giving us false hope. And for a generation ago, that's going to come as a bolt of lighting. It's just unbelievable because, well for me personally, I've lost both my grandmothers to cancer, and everybody in Ireland has been affected by cancer," he said.

"To think there will come a time when cancer will be treatable is just incredible."

Last night's event, called 'Can Research Eliminate Cancer?' brought together 40 of the world's leading cancer researchers, who met with the public and explained their work.

Current figures show that, on average, one in three people will develop cancer in their lifetime in Ireland.

Irish Independent

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