Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Breast cancer research cash is in danger of drying up

Our third Scientific Conference is taking place today with a packed schedule and over 300 delegates from all over the UK and from as far away as Canada, the USA, Nigeria, Poland and Australia.

I will indulge myself my repeating here some facts about Breast Cancer Campaign -

Our mission is to beat breast cancer by funding innovative world-class research to understand how breast cancer develops, leading to improved diagnosis, treatment, prevention and cure.

We are a serious player in the breast cancer research field, currently supporting 113 research projects, worth over £17.1 million in 40 centres of excellence across the UK and Ireland. Over the past 14 years, the charity has awarded 302 grants with a total value of over £31 million to universities, medical schools and research institutes across the UK, and now also in Ireland.

As I told the delegates – they all know that breast cancer is a high profile disease and as the most common cancer in the UK it should be. The picture is completely different for women today than in the 70’s. Thirty years ago only half of women with breast cancer survived for more than five years. Today that figure is around 80 per cent. Women are living longer after breast cancer but simply surviving is not enough and five years is not a lifetime.

This is the good news. The bad news is that breast cancer research cash is in danger of drying up. Potential new life saving breast cancer treatments may never reach the patient if the new Coalition Government fails to continue supporting charity-funded research.

We know it is a difficult and uncertain financial climate but we need reassurance that support funding will remain consistent. A ‘quick fix’ cut will have long term implications for breast cancer research and ultimately impact on the lives of people with breast cancer.

Currently the Charity Research Support Fund contributes to the cost of the research institutions’ utilities such as heating and lighting, leaving medical research charities like ourselves free to fund research.

This is a conference by scientists for scientists – Campaign needs to ensure that the infrastructure continues to be provided to house their research and we can continue to support it.

I saw in the paper this morning that the departing Chief Secretary of the Treasury, Liam Byrne, left a letter for the new guy – David Laws, “Dear Chief Secretary, I am afraid there is no money, Kind regards and good luck.” Apparently it was a joke – just shows how out of touch with the world those chaps who run the country can be.

The abstracts are published today in Breast Cancer Research as a supplement.

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