Four out of five people diagnosed with cancer of the breast, prostate or testes will survive five years, say figures released today by the UK Office of National Statistics. Between 2005 and 2009, the number of people who survive a cancer diagnosis has continued to increase.
This is thanks to increasing screening and treatment options for patients, the latter of which is made possible through scientific research done on live human tissue. But in 2006, 56 of the world’s leading breast cancer specialists got together to analyse the gaps in research. The greatest obstacle they agreed, was access to live tissue samples for use in their research. Five years later, the world’s first breast cancer tissue bank was opened, funded by the UK charity Breast Cancer Campaign. It will make further research possible into the 20 per cent of women who still don’t survive their cancers. Based in four centres in the UK – Leeds, Birmingham, London and Glasgow – it will be banking live breast and tumour tissue from women post-mastectomy on a larger scale than ever before.
Under normal circumstances, some tissue is taken from each patient post-surgery and used for diagnosis post-surgery. Now, this remaining breast cancer tissue will be banked giving scientists access to more live tissue that’s crucial to turning their theories into viable patient treatments.
Today’s ONS figues unfortunately also show survival from brain, lung, oesophagus, pancreas and stomach cancers is still only 20 per cent, meaning only one in five people currently survives five years after diagnosis. However, during the filming for the recent film I made highlighting the work of the breast cancer tissue bank, leading oncologist Professor Alastair Williams said:
‘The breast cancer tissue bank presents the chance for scientists to take their theories to the next stage of research, increasing their potential for turning into powerful treatments. The discoveries made into how breast cancers behave and metastasise [spread] can also influence the way other cancers are treated meaning the work of the new tissue bank may positively impact survival not only for breast cancer patients but for people living with other cancers too.’
Watch this film to find out more. We shot it at Bart’s Hospital in London with the help of the lovely team of clinicians and scientists and all round good people at Breast Cancer Campaign. It was produced by Print and Visual Media
If you are thinking about running the marathon you could do worse than choose BCC as your charity. I would so love to run it but so far have not got beyond thinking about it in terms of training…If you need inspiration, here is another film I have just completed about Charlotte Pittuck, who has taken the plunge to run the marathon and is actually training. It too was produced by Print and Visual Media
Charlotte last year found out she has the BRAC2 gene for breast cancer which gives her an 80 per cent chance of developing breast cancer. But thanks to research like that being done by the tissue bank, Charlotte has found out early about her risk and will at 30, have an operation to remove and reconstruct both her breasts taking her risk down to just six per cent – the same as that of most of us living without the gene. Charlotte has three small and oh-so-cute children who you will see on this film so it’s incredibly heartening news.
You can read Charlotte’s blog here or follow her on Twitter @PitzPoodle