Breast cancer charities to join forces in disease fight

Breakthrough Breast Cancer's Scottish director, James Jopling. Picture: comp

Breakthrough Breast Cancer's Scottish director, James Jopling. Picture: comp

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THOUSANDS more women’s lives could be saved when two of the biggest breast cancer charities merge next year.

Edinburgh-based Breakthrough Breast Cancer, which funds groundbreaking research at the Western General Hospital led by expert surgeon Dr Mike Dixon, will amalgamate with the Breast Cancer Campaign.

The charities, which raise around £29 million a year to spend on UK cancer research through campaigns such as Wear It Pink and Fashion Targets Breast Cancer – which has been supported by the likes of pop star Emeli Sande and supermodel Kate Moss – today announced that the merger will happen in the spring.

The hope is that one super-charity will lead to more cash being invested, a more comprehensive programme of research into breast cancer prevention and treatment and ensure the benefits reach patients quicker.

James Jopling, Breakthrough’s Scottish director, will take on the same role for the merged charity, which has still to find a new name. He said there would be no “immediate impact” on the work in ­Edinburgh but admitted that the reducing pool of resources for which charities have to compete played a part in merger talks, which have been going on for more than a year.

He said: “This is absolutely the right decision to ensure that together we will be a stronger, more effective force, committed to putting an end to breast ­cancer in Scotland and the rest of the UK. United, we will achieve our shared ­ambition that, by 2050, no-one will die from the disease.”

He added: “In Scotland more than 4600 people are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. And while we’ve got far better at helping people survive the disease, more and more are being diagnosed every year. Already, Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer invest nearly £2m in research, awareness and ­influencing work in Scotland.

“Scotland has an exceptional history in medical research and our funding of work right across the country shows our commitment to continuing that. Our belief is that by coming together in Scotland, we can inspire the support we need to put an end to breast cancer once and for all, by becoming the charity of choice for all those who back breast cancer research.”

The UK survival rate for breast cancer is one of the worst in Europe, with 1000 women dying each month. Currently 500,000 women in Britain live with the fear that their ­cancer might return as secondary breast cancer, which is neither preventable nor curable.

Between them, the charities currently fund the work of more than 270 research scientists across the UK, including the Western’s team.

Earlier this year the Evening News supported Breakthrough’s Mike’s Marvels campaign for the charity.

gina.davidson@edinburghnews.com