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Irish cancer study reaches 'the Oscars of the radiation oncology world'

The clinical trial has shown how to reduce hospital visits for patients with a certain kind of tumour.

Image: microscope via Shutterstock

IRISH SCIENTISTS WILL present new findings on cancer research to a major US conference later today.

It is among just four entries selected from 2,000 to be presented at the ‘Oscars of the radiation oncology world’ in San Francisco. It is thought to be the first time an Irish cancer research team has presented at a conference of this scale in the United States.

The study, funded by the Health Research Board, looked at how to treat malignant spinal cord compression. This is when a cancer has spread, and a tumour is pressing on the spinal cord.

This can lead to neurological damage, loss of muscle strength, and even paralysis.

Lead researcher, Pierre Thirion, said that the trials at St Lukes in Dublin found that ‘one single dose of 10 Gy [a unit of measuring radiation] of radiation therapy will deliver the same mobility and stability benefits for the patient as four doses of 5Gy (total 20Gy) of radiation therapy’.

“Ultimately this research will reduce the burden of treatment as well as frequency of hospital visits for this patient group which is a real quality of life benefit as many are in late stages of cancer,” he said.

The study involved 116 patients from five centres across the island of Ireland. They were randomised into two groups.

This is the result of work by the All Ireland Cooperative Oncology Research Group (ICORG), a €50 million not-for-profit project for cancer research.

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Dr Graham Love, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board, said this international recognition shows the group’s work is paying off.

“Presenting at the American Society for Radiation Oncology is like being nominated for the Oscars in the radiation oncology world. This is an incredible achievement for Pierre and the Icorg team,” he said.

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Nicky Ryan

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