Newsman Tommie helps set up cancer centre in hospital

By Sarah Slater

A national treatment centre for a rare form of cancer which claimed the lives of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and former Fine Gael deputy leader Jim Mitchell has been set-up here.

The frequently misdiagnosed cancer, Neuroendocrine Tumours (NET), is a term for a group of relatively uncommon cancers, often called the quiet cancers.

This cancer is slow growing, and symptoms can take time to develop and are often incorrectly attributed to more common problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn's disease, peptic ulcer disease or gastritis.

A patient support group, the Neuroedendocrine Patient Network (NPN) is the brainchild of RTE's Northern Editor Tommie Gorman and he has played a leading role in pushing for the centre of excellence to be set-up here. Tommie has battled with this form of cancer for more than 20 years.

He was diagnosed in the early 90s when there was very little knowledge or expertise on the disease here.

The centre of excellence has now been set-up at St Vincent's Hospital Dublin.


A study by the National Cancer Research Institute found there are 860 NET Irish sufferers. Internationally, five in every 100,000 people are diagnosed with this disease.

There were 1,927 people diagnosed here over a 16-year-period from 1994 to 2010, representing an annual average of 113 new cases. Survival rates are better in women than men.

The announcement of the national NET centre of excellence means that more resources and funding will be available and will lead to improved services and better access to treatments nationwide.

Professor Dermot O'Toole, the national lead on NETs said: "St Vincent's is the national referral centre so to have this facility based there made sense with satellite centres in Cork and Galway.

"By patients seeing the appropriate oncologists they become more educated about this type of cancer. "