Breakthrough Cancer Research has marked National Cancer Survivors Day by creating a symbolic 33rd county in Ireland called Co Saolfada, the county of survivors.
The county, representative of the people who have survived and lived longer because of scientific innovation and cancer research, has a population as big as Cork city.
There are 200,000 cancer survivors in the country, according to the National Cancer Registry Ireland and the population could be the fastest-growing of the counties in Ireland with greater investment in R&D for cancer, however, there are almost 45,000 people diagnosed annually with cancer and 9,000 still die from the disease each year.
Breakthrough has said that the best way to change these statistics and increase the survivor population is to support innovative cancer research that will create new treatments for the hardest to treat cancers.
CEO of Breakthrough Cancer Research, Orla Dolan, said that National Cancer Survivors Day is a day to celebrate how far the country has come in terms of cancer research.
“The number of survivors is predicted to double over the next 25 years, mainly due to improvements in early detection, effective cancer treatment and new treatment developments.
The survival rates for some cancers are already above 80% or even 90% but that’s not the case for all cancers and we urgently need to change that.
"With more research and better treatments, we could save many more of the 9,000 who still die from cancer each year in Ireland.
“We should aim to add at least 80,000 more residents to Co Saolfada in the next 10 years. Everyone diagnosed with cancer should get the opportunity to live there,” she said.
Ms Dolan appealed to both the public for their help in achieving the “ambitious goal” and the Government “for greater investment in cancer research to help make more survivors of cancer”.
Sadly, everyone in Ireland is related to someone from Co Saolfada, so if every adult donated just €5 in their name to cancer research this week, it would raise €20 million.
“This would mean that we could give the green light to four new clinical trials, three strategic research programmes and 12 translational and lab-based multi-year research projects throughout the country focused on early diagnostics, immunotherapy, overcoming treatment resistance, precision oncology, and novel therapeutics.
“This research would be focused on currently poor prognosis cancers like oesophageal, lung, ovarian and pancreatic and could be started if more funding became available,” she said.