Cancer team aiming high after merger

Professor Mike Dixon. Picture: Jon Savage
Professor Mike Dixon. Picture: Jon Savage
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Two leading cancer charities have joined forces as part of an ambitious bid to stop women dying from breast cancer by 2050.

Breast Cancer Now, formed from the merger of Edinburgh-based Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer Campaign, is investing £1.6 million in Scottish research to see its bold vision become a reality.

Today, the new campaign’s Scottish boss said the move would allow the charity – now one of the UK’s largest – to “more effectively ask the big questions” at a time when breast cancer is at a “tipping point”.

More than 1000 Scottish women die of breast cancer every year, primarily from its secondary form, with more diagnosed with the disease in Edinburgh and the Lothians than ever before.

But scientists, including Western General Hospital-based Professor Mike Dixon, are carrying out research to develop new treatments and techniques in a bid to stop the disease.

The drive includes ground-breaking work at the Beatson Institute in Glasgow which experts believe could hold the key to stopping breast cancer spreading.

James Jopling, Scottish director of Breast Cancer Now and the former boss of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “Right now breast cancer is at a tipping point. More women across the Lothians are surviving the disease than ever before. But more are being diagnosed than ever before.

“Edinburgh is already a home for world-class cancer research and we believe that research holds the key to a world where everyone who develops breast cancer lives.

“By coming together we can more effectively ask the big questions and, with the support of those affected by the disease, continue and grow our tireless work to answer them.”

The director, who is leaving to join the Samaritans next month, added: “With the backing of the public, the dedication of the research community, and the support of the Scottish Government, we believe we will achieve our aim that by 2050 no-one will die from breast cancer in Scotland.”

As well as its work in Scotland, Breast Cancer Now has announced a new study that will analyse tissue from secondary breast cancer patients – collected just hours after they pass away – in a bid to open the door to understanding and ultimately 
stopping the spread of the disease. The pilot scheme – dubbed the Legacy study – will be carried out at the London-based Institute of Cancer Research and is the first of its kind in the UK.

Consultant breast surgeon Peter Barry, Legacy’s chief investigator, said: “As we learn more about how breast cancer spreads, we move a step closer to preventing it and preventing deaths from the disease.”

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com