Europa Donna Ireland held its 2019 AGM in the Trinity City Hotel on September 17th and celebrated 21 years of advocacy for women in Ireland. With Deirdre O’Connell as chair, a report on activity in MBC was presented by Tara Byrne while Fiona McEntee outlined progress with the NCCP survivorship committee. Ciara O’Donnell presented the accounts. After refreshments, Professor William Gallagher gave an outline of the improvements in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment which have occurred over those 21 years. The Irish contribution to advances has been significant. Dr Moya Cole was an Irish doctor who was instrumental in the first trials of Tamoxifen, a drug which has saved more lives than any other cancer treatment. Irish participants also contributed in the research by Dr Denis Slamon who, through Herceptin brought the turnaround in figures for survival with triple negative cancer. And Irish participation in trials like the TAILORx trial has contributed to a more refined test (Oncotype DX) which predicts who will respond to chemotherapy in early stage breast cancer, thus sparing many women from the side effects of chemotherapy.
Dr Gallagher explained that research is now looking for more specific molecular ways to diagnose and treat breast cancer. In Ireland the Collaborative Cancer Research Centre BREAST-PREDICT strives toward personalized breast cancer medicine. Currently, BREAST-PREDICT has 17 novel therapeutic strategies and 7 novel diagnostic test projects in progress. Hopefully, molecular medicine will allow treatments which are individualised for tumour types rather than a blunt broad-spectrum approach. 21 years has brought amazing progress in breast cancer treatment and survival-imagine what can happen in the next 21 years.