Funding cutbacks are having a serious impact on the availability of potentially life-saving treatments for cancer patients.
That is the message from Cancer Trials Ireland, who are calling on the Government to reverse a €3m cut to its services.
The group said before 2016, 3% of people with cancer were on a drug trial, however last year it was down to 1.5%.
Professor Brian Hennessey, Clinical Lead at Cancer Trials Ireland, said it is important more, not less, cancer patients access trials.
Prof. Hennessey said: “They’re the only way that we can get people’s cancer accessed to newer and potentially better treatment and ultimately they are the only way that we can improve the treatment of cancer.
“So they have benefits for people right now with cancer and who are undergoing cancer treatment and they have benefits for people who have cancer in the future.”
New research from the University Hospital Limerick found that the number of its patients asking to participate in a cancer trial increased by 7% last year.
Eibhlín Mulroe, CEO of Cancer Trials Ireland, said: “Trials can often be the best treatment option available for cancer patients and offer a higher level of oversight because of the team nature of clinical trials. Up to 20 people can be reviewing data associated with a patient’s response to treatment and there is great comfort in that knowledge for patients on our trials.
“Trials are also a very cost-effective way to provide cancer treatments as trial drugs are provided by pharmaceutical companies. For every €1 in Government grant we get, we can attract €3 in investment in trials.”