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Call for Irish breast cancer patients to take part in new drug trial

The 50 Irish patients will join almost 5,000 taking part worldwide on the trial.

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File photo
Image: Shutterstock/Blue Planet Earth

UP TO 50 patients in Cork, Waterford and Dublin are being sought to take part in a clinical trial to test a drug designed to treat a certain form of breast cancer.

Made by Pfizer, palbociclib is being trialled in over 4,600 patients worldwide.

Also called Ibrance, the drug will be examined to see if it can be effective in treating early stage breast cancer (called HR positive/HER2 negative breast cancer).

It has already been shown to reduce the rate of cancer growth in late-stage forms of breast cancer.

The consultant oncologist who will lead the trials in Ireland, Dr Patrick Morris, says he and colleagues “are tremendously excited about investigating its potential in early stage breast cancer”.

Dr Morris said: “This new drug is not yet available to patients with early stage breast cancer outside a trial setting so we are delighted that Irish participants will have access to the trial.

“As this is the most common form of breast cancer and up to 30% of patients develop disease recurrence despite the standard adjuvant treatment, there may be many women and men in Ireland in the decades ahead who could potentially benefit from the findings of this trial.

This trial could materially change how early stage breast cancer is treated in the future.

Morris added that this research is important because HR positive/HER2 negative forms of breast cancer are often unresponsive to chemotherapy, and the risk of the cancer returning is high.

The trial will run in six Irish hospitals: Cork University Hospital, University Hospital Waterford, the Mater Hospital, Beaumont Hospital, St James’s Hospital and St Vincent’s University Hospital.

As it will test for recurrence of the disease, so the trial is planned to take place over ten years. It will see whether treatment with palbociclib improves results compared to treatment with the current standard anti-hormone therapy alone.

Patients wishing to enrol on the trial, called PALLAS, are advised to contact their medical oncologist.

The trial here will be run by Cancer Trials Ireland. Set up 20 years ago by a team of cancer consultants, the group is supported by the Health Research Board and the Irish Cancer Society.

Read: ‘Cancer can take such a toll. Cannabis has helped me. It picks me up’

Read: The risk of dying of cancer is significantly higher among Irish men than Irish women

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Sean Murray

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