Boyne Research Institute | News and Press Releases

News and Press Releases


November 2018

CanCare4Living roadshow comes to the Northwest

20 people attended a meeting in Letterkenny on the 13th Nov 2018. The meeting was jointly organised by CanCare4living and the Boyne Research Institute and was attended by survivors of childhood and adolescent cancer, their families and friends in the Northwest region. Co-founder of CanCare4Living Patricia McColgan reported on earlier roadshow events and Dr. Byrne of Boyne Research Institute described how research is useful for survivors and families and outlined the European research projects involving the Boyne Research institute. Childhood cancer survivor Nikki spoke about her life after diagnosis and treatment for Ewing sarcoma and Daniel described how he manages his life after treatment for medulloblastoma. A lively discussion followed where parents described the difficulties they face in the Northwest region, including the requirement for parents to administer chemotherapy drugs to their own children and the logistical issues attending Crumlin hospital from Donegal. Those present have formed the CanCare4Living Donegal chapter who will meet regularly and liaise with CanCare4Living Dublin.

July 2018

‘Survivorship after Childhood Cancer’, Dublin Castle

Pictured (l-R) at the ‘survivorship after childhood cancer’ event are Sarah Quigley, Patient advocate; Aoife Moggan, Patient advocate; Dr Larry Bacon, St James’ Hospital; Dr Peter Barrett, NCCP; Louise Mullen, NCCP; Dr Heleen van der Pal, Princess Maxima Center, Netherlands; Dr Julianne Byrne, Boyne Research Institute; and Patricia McColgan, CanCare4living.

Over 100 people attended Dublin Castle for the ‘survivorship after Childhood Cancer’ public meeting on the 7th July 2018. The event jointly organised by CanCare4living and the Boyne Research Institute with support from the HSE’s National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP), brought together survivors of childhood and adolescent cancer, their families and friends as well as health care professionals, researchers and advocacy groups.

A highlight among attendees was keynote address by Dr. Heleen van der Pal, from the Princess Maxima Centre for Childhood Cancer in Utrecht, Netherlands. Dr van der Pal runs the survivorship services and she shared information and news of best practice in the care of childhood cancer survivors across Europe.

Guest speaker Dr Peter Barrett, NCCP Specialist Registrar in Public Health medicine, said: “There are many reasons to be optimistic. Survival rates from childhood cancer are improving and the number of adult survivors is increasing all the time in Ireland. However, the treatments that provide the cure for cancer can also damage healthy organs. These late effects of treatment can occur many years after the treatment is complete, well into adulthood. The aim of this unique event was to explore the needs of survivors of childhood cancer, to hear from international experts and discuss opportunities to improve services for the future.”

Louise Mullen, NCCP National Programme Manager for Cancer survivorship, said: “as part of the national Cancer strategy 2017-2026, we are focusing on improving the ongoing care of adult survivors of childhood cancer. The NCCP are working on a range of projects, such as this one, to improve the experience and care for cancer survivors.”

April 2018

CanCare4Living Roadshow comes to Galway

CC4L seeks to grow membership by holding 'Roadshows' across the country, starting with Cork in February and most recently in Galway's Harbour Hotel on Tuesday 24th April. Attendees included survivors, families and friends, cancer support centre representatives; Dr Paul D'Alton, Psycho-Oncologist St Vincents Hospital; Louise Mullins of the NCCP; and CC4L trustees Patricia McColgan, Dr Julianne Byrne, Michael McKenna and Garry Owens. Patricia McColgan welcomed attendees and outlined CC4L progress to date. This included hosting Pancare Europe in Dublin, consulting with the National Cancer Control Programme and others and establishing an Advisory Group of medical experts.

Dr Julianne Byrne of the Boyne Research Institute and CC4L trustee, summarised trends in cancer cases and survivorship in Ireland and Europe and highlighted the many and ongoing advances in cancer treatments.

Aoife Moggan was diagnosed with a spinal tumour at age 12. She movingly related her experience of missed diagnoses and multiple operations to finally reach a tolerably safe harbour. Dr Paul D'Alton gave an inspirational address on caring for mental health and self-esteem through the cancer experience. In addition to Galway, the CC4L Roadshow has already been to Cork and will visit Carlow on Thursday 3rd May at the Talbot Hotel, and Dublin on Saturday 7th July. New members are very welcome; contact CC4L on

Feb 2018

CanCare4Living Roadshow starts in Cork

CanCare4Living and the Boyne Research Institute were pleased to host a SURVIVORSHIP MEETING in the Clayton Hotel Cork City on Thursday 15 February 2018 - International Childhood Cancer day.

The purpose of this meeting was to raise awareness of late effects including both health effects and psychosocial consequences for survivors, to discuss long-term follow-up, and to involve survivors in efforts to safeguard their own health.

This first survivorship meeting covered general health and fertility concerns. Patricia McColgan, Chair of CanCare4Living, opened the meeting and speakers included Dr Julianne Byrne of the Boyne Research Institute, Dr John Waterstone of the Waterstone Clinic, Cork and Ms. Aoife Moggan, childhood cancer survivor and advocate.

Dr. Peter Barrett of the National Cancer Control Programme also contributed giving an update of the work he’s currently undertaking on behalf of the NCCP.

It was a very special evening - survivors and their supporters outlined some of the challenges faced by survivors and there followed an open discussion on how to highlight these issues and, most importantly, how to collaborate to find solutions.

Participants at the meeting included survivors of childhood and adolescent cancer, their families and friends, Cork Arc Centre representatives and health care professionals.

July 2017

National Cancer Strategy Launched

In July 2017 the Irish Department of Health launched the national cancer strategy which can be viewed here

June 2017

PanCareSurFup and PanCareLIFE represented at the 15th International Conference on Long-Term Complications of Treatment of Children and Adolescents for Cancer", in Atlanta, Georgia.

Dr. Julianne Byrne attended the "15th International Conference on Long-Term Complications of Treatment of Children and Adolescents for Cancer", in the Emory Conference Center Hotel, Atlanta, Georgia, June 15-17, 2017. There were over 250 attendees with a good percentage from Europe. The programme commenced with four speakers describing the science and implementation of genomic medicine, followed by a panel discussion. Europe was well represented among the oral platform presentations, with four from PanCareSurFup, two from the Dutch DCOG-LATER study and two from the ALICCS Study from the Nordic countries. Among the more than 100 posters, four described the PanCareSurFup consortium, and five the PanCareLIFE consortium. Dr Byrne brought a poster describing the structure of the PanCareLIFE consortium. The final session was a very stimulating series of three talks on bioethics followed by a lively discussion. Outside meetings included an afternoon meeting to discuss the proposed H2020 application from PanCare, and a breakfast meeting for those present involved in the PanCareLIFE consortium.

November 2014

Problems faced by survivors of childhood and adolescent cancer survivors

An article in The Irish Times Health Supplement on Tuesday 25th November 2014 highlighted the problems that childhood and adolescent cancer survivors face as a result of the harsh treatments required to cure their cancer.

October 2014

Boyne Research Institute involved in the formation of CanCare4Living

Dr Julianne Byrne of the Boyne Research Institute was involved in the formation of a new group of parents and survivors of childhood and adolescent cancer called CanCare4Living (CC4L), which had its inaugural meeting in The Mansion House in Dublin on 21st October 2014. Dr Byrne has joined the CC4L founders, Patricia McColgan and Garry Owens, on the steering committee. The aim of CC4L is to promote long-term follow-up care for survivors of childhood and teenage cancers in Ireland. At present there is no follow-up programme in Ireland. CC4L will look at the models that exist in other countries with the goal of learning lessons that can be applied to the setting up of a similar programme in Ireland.

Press Releases

November 2016

Childhood cancer researchers and survivors investigate hearing loss, reduction in fertility and quality of life in Drogheda.

Researchers and clinical scientists from across Europe gathered in Drogheda this week to investigate specific problems faced by survivors of cancer diagnosed during childhood. The PanCareLIFE consortium met from Monday to Tuesday 17-18th October in Drogheda’s D Hotel. The consortium includes delegates from Germany, Holland, the UK, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Italy, France, Denmark and Greece. On the agenda for this EU-funded research consortium were problems of hearing loss in children treated with certain chemotherapeutic agents, reduction in fertility in women who successfully survived cancer during childhood and the quality of life of survivors. PanCareLIFE researchers also heard about a study using a new brochure intended to increase fertility preservation.

Ireland is represented in the PanCareLIFE consortium by the Boyne Research Institute in Drogheda, whose CEO, Julianne Byrne, said that “the meeting in Drogheda was a great success and showed that strong collaborations can be built and maintained across Europe. The pan-European umbrella group – the PanCare Network – has produced two successful consortia so far and will continue to work hard so that survivors of childhood cancer can improve their health and lead happy and fulfilled lives”. Dr. Byrne continued: “while four of five children diagnosed with cancer before age 15 will be cured, there are persistent health and functioning difficulties arising from their treatments. Even many years after the end of treatment new issues can emerge that survivors thought were behind them”.

Survivors were represented by Amilia Tsirou, the founder of the survivors’ association in Greece, who praised the work of the consortium, pointing out the “no-man’s land” after the end of treatment and extending into survivorship. Care for survivors will incorporate the results of PanCareLIFE and continue to spread the good news of survivorship after childhood cancer.

Members of the consortium will continue their work this week as the SIOP (the International Paediatric Oncology Society) conference meets in Dublin at the Convention Centre and at other venues around Dublin.

For further information please contact:

Dr. Julianne Byrne: 041-9836041/087-6166100 (,

September 2015

Boyne Research Institute students present their work

Each year the Boyne Research Institute provides an opportunity for two Leaving Certificate students from Drogheda schools to spend 6 weeks conducting research in its offices on Fair Green, Drogheda. Now in its 21st year, the summer student programme culminated in the annual reception on Thursday 13th August. In attendance was Louth County Councillor, Oliver Tully. The centrepiece of the reception was a presentation by this year’s two summer students – Amina Moustafa and Luisa Saborío. Both students provided a clear and succinct overview of two research topics related to upcoming projects of the Boyne Research Institute.

About 120 Irish children are diagnosed with cancer each year. Nearly 80% of these children live at least 5 years after diagnosis and most can be considered cured of their original cancer. Although treatments have improved they can be harsh and can damage many healthy organs and tissues. One long-term effect of treatment for childhood cancer is damage to teeth and to oral health. The Boyne Research Institute is collaborating with Irish dentists and the National Cancer Registry of Ireland in a new research study of the long-term effects of cancer treatment during childhood on the dental health of survivors. Luisa, formerly of Drogheda Grammar School, presented a talk on ‘Late Effects of Childhood Cancer Treatment on Oral-Dental Health’.

The Boyne Research Institute is a partner in a number of EU funded projects. It is also currently working with the Oncology Unit at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda on barriers to care experienced by patients undergoing breast cancer treatment. A paper published by the Institute in 2014 described how social inequality was reflected in the likelihood that women will survive breast cancer. The project will investigate what barriers women might experience in their journey with cancer. Amina, formerly of Our Lady’s College, Greenhills, Drogheda presented a talk on ‘Breast Cancer and Care for Patients’.

Ms. Patricia McColgan, a parent of a childhood cancer survivor, finished the evening by discussing the work she is involved in as a founding member of CanCare4Living This is a support group in Ireland for survivors of childhood cancer and their families.

Both students received excellent Leaving Certificate results and will soon commence their studies at third level. Amina is studying Science in Trinity College, Dublin and Luisa is studying Psychology through Science in Maynooth University.

For further information contact:
Rebecca Lawler

Boyne Research Institute
Tiernan House, Fair Green,
Drogheda, Co. Louth.
Tel & Fax: +353 (0)41 9836041


10th November, 2014

Breast cancer patients from more deprived areas have poorer survival

New research published by the National Cancer Registry and the Boyne Research Institute shows that breast cancer patients from more deprived areas in Ireland have a substantially higher risk of dying from their cancer than those from less deprived areas. The study (published in the journal PLOS ONE) followed up almost 30,000 women with breast cancer, with particular focus on 21,000 women diagnosed during the years 1999-2008. Some of the survival disparity reflected differences in stage at presentation and other factors examined. Similar findings have been noted in other countries, for a wide range of cancers, but this is the first detailed study of such disparities for breast cancer in Ireland.

Each patient was assigned to a deprivation category based on average socioeconomic characteristics of their area of residence (electoral division). Patients from the most deprived areas (about one-quarter of all patients) were about 30% more likely to die from their cancer than patients from the least deprived areas, having allowed for differences in patients’ age. This translated into, on average, 75% survival to five years after diagnosis in the most deprived group compared with 80% in the least deprived group. Comparison with 8,000 women diagnosed in earlier years (1994-1998) showed that survival disparities did not diminish over time, although survival of all groups did improve.

Patients from more deprived backgrounds were more likely to present with advanced stage, high grade or hormone receptor-negative cancer, factors associated with poorer prognosis. They were also more likely to present with symptoms (rather than through screening) and to be smokers; and less likely to have breast-conserving surgery (rather than mastectomy), though other treatment differences were minor. However, the analysis found that the available information on patient and tumour characteristics and on treatment could explain only about half of the survival disparity seen. This suggests that factors that were unmeasured, or difficult to quantify, may have accounted for the remaining disparity.

Dr Julianne Byrne, one of the authors, commented “Persistent survival disparities among Irish breast cancer patients, although not fully understood, suggest unequal use of or access to health services. Our study highlights the need to understand and remove the behavioural or other barriers that may be involved.”

The period covered by this study pre-dates both full national coverage by the BreastCheck screening programme (which was launched as a national programme in 2007, and completed two rounds of national screening by 2013) and the National Cancer Control Programme’s Breast Symptomatic Services in the new cancer centres (which commenced in late 2009).

A copy of the full article* can be downloaded at:

*Walsh PM, Byrne J, Kelly M, McDevitt J, Comber H. Socioeconomic disparity in survival after breast cancer in Ireland: observational study. PLOS ONE November 05 2014

For further information please contact:
Dr Julianne Byrne:
Dr Paul Walsh:
( ; ; @IrishCancerReg)

  • Notes to Editors
About the National Cancer Registry: The National Cancer Registry was established by the Minister for Health in 1991. It has been collecting comprehensive cancer information for the Republic of Ireland since 1994. The information collected is used in research into the causes of cancer, in education and information programmes, and in the planning of cancer services to deliver the best cancer care to the whole population.
About the Boyne Research Institute: The Boyne Research Institute is a community-based, not-for-profit, research facility established in Drogheda, Ireland, in 1992. The mission of the Boyne Research Institute includes both research and education on aspects of health.

Tuesday 21st October, 2014

New organisation, CanCare4Living, launches in Ireland to address the issue of lifelong side-effects caused by cancer treatment

A new organisation to address the lifelong side-effects caused by the treatment of cancer during childhood was launched in Dublin on Tuesday 21st October 2014.

CanCare4Living has been set up by two parents - Patricia McColgan and Garry Owens - whose children survived cancer. Patricia and Garry how much they had in common at an Open House of the Boyne Research Institute, Drogheda in October 2013. Dr Julianne Bryne, CEO of the Boyne Research Institute is a member of the advisory committee of CanCare4Living.

The key objectives of CanCare4Living are to:

  • Raise awareness of the side-effects associated with cancer treatment among young people
  • Empower childhood cancer survivors to seek out support for ongoing side-effects
  • Start a conversation about side-effects and establish a formal platform for ongoing communication
  • Establish a community of people working in this space – with a steering group of experts representing the multidisciplinary nature of the side-effects
  • Achieve a long-term follow-up care model that meets the needs of those who are affected

Today, Patricia McColgan, Chairperson, CanCare4Living said: "Cancer treatment saves lives but a significant number of survivors can have long term side-effects as a result of the treatments. These can include fertility issues, growth and hormone problems, learning and memory problems to name a few. We hope that the establishment of CanCare4Living will help to raise awareness of the side-effects and importantly establish a community of people who can help survivors navigate the issues that can arise.”

Garry Owens said: "Since many adult survivors of childhood & teenager cancer are dealing with multiple issues, both medical and psychosocial, we hope that CanCare4Living can create links with the medical profession and related disciplines to share issues and concerns. Survivors need access to comprehensive & structured long term follow up care to help them achieve secure, healthy and fulfilled adult lives. They’ve earned it !”

Dr. Julianne Byrne said: "Over 120 children are diagnosed with cancer in Ireland each year. The National Cancer Registry of Ireland tell us that 80% will become long-term survivors. Long lasting side effects of treatment among survivors, can be serious even life-threatening. CanCare4Living will do important work to help those who have, and will continue to be, affected by the late complications."

CanCare4Living has set up a website

For further information contact:
Patricia McColgan,
(086 2532819)

Amy Pilgrim
Fleishman Hillard

July 2013

Boyne Research Institute signs agreement for second European consortium

The Boyne Research Institute has signed an agreement to participate in a major new European consortium. Dr. Julianne Byrne, director of the Institute based in Drogheda, Ireland, says “This award emphasizes the high priority placed by the European Union on preserving the health of survivors of childhood cancer survivors, and the need for a better understanding of the factors that can threaten their health”. The Boyne Research Institute is joined in this consortium by scientists from 14 major research centres and hospitals in 7 other European countries. It is being coordinated by Dr. Peter Kaatsch from the University Medical Center at Mainz, Germany. Another Irish company – Pintail – is covering management and dissemination activities for the consortium.

This new consortium, called “PanCareLIFE”, focuses on three of the major long-term complications and aspects of survivorship following cancer diagnosed during childhood and adolescence. These are impairments in female fertility, problems with hearing and possible issues with quality of life. DNA will be tested in parallel to determine which gene variants can be linked to these long-term complications.

PanCareLIFE is the second EU consortium in which the Boyne Research Institute is a participant. The first consortium is called PanCareSurFup and was funded in 2011 for five years through the 7th Framework Programme of the EU. PanCareSurFup is assessing the risk to survivors of serious complications following treatment for cancer during childhood and adolescence. These are second malignancies, heart disease and late mortality.

Adults who have been cured of cancer during childhood often experience late physical and psychological complications mainly due to their treatment. A recent publication from the US indicates that by age 45 as many as 95% of survivors have experienced at least one chronic late effect; for 85% of survivors these were serious or life-threatening.

About 120 Irish children are diagnosed with cancer each year. Because cancer treatments have steadily improved nearly 80% of newly diagnosed children live at least five years after diagnosis, and most can be considered cured of their original cancer. However, the treatments can be harsh and can damage healthy organs resulting in many new and long-lasting threats to health. As survivors age there is a continuing need for medical surveillance and interventions. At present, there is no mechanism whereby Irish childhood cancer survivors can be included in these consortia. The Boyne Research Institute is preparing applications for funding that will develop ways to assess their current health status and health care needs.

Both consortia are based in the PanCare network that is a multidisciplinary pan-European network of professionals, survivors and their families that aims to reduce the frequency, severity and impact of late side-effects of the treatment of children and adolescents with cancer.

For further information contact:
Dr. Julianne Byrne,
Boyne Research Institute
Tiernan House, Fair Green,
Drogheda, Co. Louth.
Tel & Fax: +353 (0)41 9836041

December 2012

Birthday Donation to Boyne Research Institute

Brendan Toner, a long-time supporter of the Boyne Research Institute, kindly donated €750 to continue the Institute's work into neural tube defects. Instead of presents at his birthday party, Mr Toner requested that his family and friends make a donation for spina bifida research. Dr Byrne, director of the Boyne Research Institute, expressed her sincere thanks to Mr Toner, his family and friends for their generosity and continued support.

Dr Byrne said "Our spina bifida work now focuses on molecular markers obtained from blood samples donated in 2007. The Boyne Research Institute is a member of a new international consortium, established by scientists from Trinity College Dublin and the USA. This very large consortium should enable a better understanding of the origins of these complex conditions".

For further information contact:
Rosaire Kelly,
Tiernan House,
Fair Green,
Co. Louth.
Tel & Fax: +353 (0)41 9836041

November 2012

French Scientist visits Boyne Research Institute, Drogheda

Dr Claire BERGER, consultant in paediatric oncology/haematology, from Saint-Etienne in France, spent two weeks in Drogheda, from 4th to 17th of November 2012. She chose Drogheda as her base because of her connection with Dr Julianne Byrne, director of the Boyne Research Institute, through PanCare ( - a multidisciplinary pan-European network of professionals, survivors and their families that aims to reduce the frequency, severity and impact of late side-effects of the treatment of children and adolescents with cancer.

One of Dr Berger's aims was to improve her proficiency in English. During her stay in Drogheda she attended lessons at Edgewater College and stayed with a local host family. Dr Berger said "I really enjoyed my time in Drogheda and found it very beneficial for my project and my spoken English. I was very happy with my host family who made me very welcome".

Dr Berger is chairperson of the Rhône-Alpes childhood cancer registry and coordinator of the French national late effects committee. Like Dr Byrne, she has a keen interest in the late effects of cancer treatment on survivors of cancer during childhood and adolescence. Dr. Berger's current project entitled SALTO: Long-term follow up in oncology will evaluate fertility problems and quality of life in survivors from the Eastern region of France.

Dr Berger also visited the Department of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology in Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin in Dublin where she assisted in Dr Michael Capra's late effects clinic.

For further information contact:
Rosaire Kelly,
Tiernan House,
Fair Green,
Co. Louth.
Tel & Fax: +353 (0)41 9836041

February 2012


The Boyne Research Institute is recruiting 2 amateur cyclists to represent the Republic of Ireland in a 10km cycling event that takes place in the Treviso area of Italy near Venice on Saturday and Sunday May 5th and 6th 2012.

In their search for the Irish entrants, Boyne Research is looking for keen amateur cyclists who must be long-term survivors of cancer in childhood or adolescence. All expenses for the cyclist will be covered by the organisers. In addition, on-the-ground expenses for one person accompanying the cyclist will be covered; air travel for that person will not be covered. Bicycles and equipment will be provided for the race and takes place on the morning of Sunday 6th May.

The event is sponsored by PanCareSurFup, which is a pan-European consortium involving professionals, survivors and their families and aims to increase awareness and research about survivorship after cancer during childhood and adolescence. The Boyne Research Institute is one of the 16 partners across 11 European countries in the consortium. Funding for this event is provided by an Italian charity that represents Italian bicycle manufacturers.

Entrants for the race are being sought from all countries involved in PanCareSurfup.

Dr Julianne Byrne of the Boyne Research Institute says: "We are very excited to begin our search for 2 people to represent Ireland and the Boyne Research Institute in this fantastic event. It will be a great opportunity for them to experience cycling in this beautiful part of Italy and to meet other survivors from across Europe. Furthermore they will be helping PanCareSurFup increase awareness of the issues around survivorship after cancer during childhood and adolescence.

We are looking for 2 individuals who have not only survived cancer during childhood and adolescence but who share our enthusiasm for raising awareness of these issues and who will really relish and enjoy the challenge".

For further details and to apply applicants should contact Rosaire Kelly at the Boyne Research Institute on or call 041 9836041.
Boyne Research Institute
Tiernan House, Fair Green
Drogheda, Ireland
Tel & Fax: +353 (0)41 9836041

November 2011


Childhood Cancer Survivors Should Not Smoke at Any Time in Their Lives

SURVIVORS of childhood cancers should not smoke at any time in their lives due to their increased risk of developing second cancers, Nessa Childers MEP has told Europe's first conference on childhood cancer survivorship, which was held in Dublin.

A recent study has shown that one in five childhood and adolescent cancer survivors currently smokes.

Ms Childers, a member of the EU's Committee on Public Health, was addressing the first Conference on Survivorship after Cancer during Childhood and Adolescence on Saturday November 26th at the Croke Park Conference Centre.

This is the first European conference for survivors of childhood and adolescent cancers and their families.

"Although 80% of survivors will go on to lead fulfilling lives, they will be at increased risk of second cancers, heart disease and other health problems", said Ms Childers.

"Given the long-acknowledged carcinogenic effects of tobacco, the message coming from health professionals, patient groups and legislators must be simple - `if you are a cancer survivor, do not smoke'."

Dr Julianne Byrne, founder of Boyne Research Institute, Drogheda and organiser of the inaugural conference for young cancer survivors and their families, endorsed Ms Childers' message.

"Children who have had cancer should be encouraged to not even think about smoking for the first time", said Dr Byrne.

Dr Lars Hjorth of the University of Lund in Sweden told the conference that childhood cancers have become more curable, with five-year survival in Europe rising from 44% in the 1970s to 74% at present. In Ireland, nearly 80% of children diagnosed with cancer will live at least five years.

Dr Elvira van Dalen of the Emma Children's Hospital in Amsterdam described the excess risk for heart disease at a young age that childhood cancer survivors face, and pointed out that smoking is an added and avoidable risk for survivors.

Although many children will be cured of their original cancer, some may experience long-term complications or late effects as a result of the treatments which can damage many organ systems, she said.

The conference was organised by the Boyne Research Institute in association with the PanCareSurFup consortium and the Irish Cancer Society.

PanCareSurFup is a five-year pan-European project funded by the EU's 7th Framework Programme. It is investigating the late effects of treatment for cancer during childhood and adolescence, and will establish guidelines for follow-up, disseminate the results and provide training and workshops for stakeholders.

The Boyne Research Institute is a partner in PanCareSurFup. The consortium hopes to hold similar conferences in other European countries.

Speakers were drawn from the UK, Holland, Sweden and Germany, and included experts in epidemiology, cancer registries, paediatric oncology, and patient and parent advocate organisations, such as Barretstown and CanTeen.

For more information, visit, or phone Ciara Hall at 041-9836041, Mobile 085 7192911 or email:

Pictures: Conor McCabe Photography (085 705 7255) will supply pictures from the Conference to picture desks.

Available for interview: Cancer survivor Lindsey Sweetman, 20, from Dublin.

Dr Julianne Byrne, Boyne Research Institute.

Please contact Ciara Hall on +353 (0)41 9836041 or mobile: 085-7192911 to arrange interviews.

For more information contact:
Ciara Hall
Boyne Research Institute
Tiernan House, Fair Green
Drogheda, Ireland
Tel & Fax: +353 (0)41 9836041

August 2011

Irish childhood cancer survivors:
Children from deprived backgrounds have the same chance of surviving five years as children from advantaged backgrounds.

A new analysis from Ireland's National Cancer Registry, the Boyne Research Institute in Drogheda, and Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, shows that area of residence and socio-economic background had little impact on five-year survival of children of diagnosed with cancer in Ireland.

The study (published in the European Journal of Cancer) looked at region of residence and also at socio-economic status, to determine if children who lived further away from major treatment centres or children from more disadvantaged backgrounds were more likely to die before they reached the five-year survival mark.

The National Cancer Registry has been registering patients with cancer, including children, since 1994. Data were analysed for cancers diagnosed between 1994 and 2005. Regional patterns of treatment were assessed to evaluate the impact of centralization of services. The regions examined were Dublin / North-East, Dublin / Mid-Leinster, South and West, based on the HSE administrative regions. An index of deprivation, using Census data on socio-economic variables for small areas of residence, was used to measure disadvantage.

Cancer in children is rare, but seems to be on the increase, although in part this may reflect improvements in diagnostic services. In Ireland, 1450 children aged 0-14 (an average of 120 children per year) were diagnosed with cancer during the study period. The recorded incidence increased from 137 cases per million per year during 1994-97 to 158 per million during 2002-2005. This represents an average percentage increase of 1.5% per year, similar to recent trends for Europe as a whole. Many developed countries have reported increases in occurrence of childhood cancer. The reasons why children get cancer are largely unknown; many factors (including environmental, immunological or genetic) may be operating, both independently and together.

Survival from cancer is usually assessed at five years from diagnosis. The overall five-year survival for Irish children with cancer was 79%. This is very close to the most recent estimates for Europe as a whole.

No clear evidence was found of deprivation-related influences on childhood cancer survival in Ireland, overall or for the three main diagnostic groups - leukaemias, brain tumours and lymphomas.

Likewise, there was little evidence of regional variation in survival, with the possible exception of CNS tumours for which there was significantly higher survival among patients resident in the Western region.

The authors speculate that the absence of clear trends or patterns for regional or deprivation-related variation in survival may reflect a high degree of coordination and uniformity of diagnosis and treatment services, and application of standard treatment protocols nationally. In Ireland most children with cancer are treated at major hospitals where international treatment regimens are in place.

Contact person: For more information, please contact:
Dr. Paul Walsh
National Cancer Registry
Building 6800,
Cork Airport Business Park,
Kinsale Road, Cork, Ireland
Tel: 021-4318014
Dr. Julianne Byrne
Boyne Research Institute
Tiernan House, Fair Green
Tel & Fax: 041-9836041


May 2011

Dad's tragic death helps focus on running.
Half marathon raises nearly £ 500 for Boyne Research Institute.

Supporters of the half-marathon run of Neil Toner in Leeds on 8 May raised nearly £ 500, or almost € 560, towards the Summer Student Programme of the Boyne Research Institute.

Neil Toner's dad, Eugene, died tragically early this year. His family set up a fund in Eugene's memory to aid the Summer Student Programme of the Boyne Research Institute. Neil said: "My time of 1.49 minutes was 10 minutes better than previously. Following my dad's death I wanted something to focus on and keep me occupied. Although I had only been training for 10 weeks I managed to take 10 minutes off my best time. It was really hard work -- especially the last 3 miles".

The 2011 Summer Student Programme will run from June to August. From about 30 applicants two were chosen and will start at the end of June.


Contact person: For more information, please contact:
Dr. Julianne Byrne
Boyne Research Institute
Tiernan House, Fair Green
Tel & Fax: 041-9836041


10 February 2011

Major EU project to tackle follow-up care after childhood cancer

Childhood cancer survivors, though being 'cured' of cancer, often experience late physical and psychological effects secondary to their cancer or its treatment. To accelerate the search for new successful treatments and improve the quality of life after cancer, 16 research institutes from 11 European countries have decided to join forces and launch a groundbreaking study funded by the EU. The Boyne Research Institute in Drogheda is one of the participants in the project.

The PanCareSurFup ("Pancare childhood and adolescent cancer survivor care and follow-up studies") project, which has received almost EUR 6 million under the Health Theme of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), kicked off on 1 February in Lund, Sweden.

Coordinating the PanCareSurFup project is paediatric oncologist Lars Hjorth from Lund University in Sweden. Epidemiologist Julianne Byrne with the Boyne Research Institute in Drogheda, is deputy coordinator of the project. Also involved are 34 other medical specialists, who include some of the leading experts on risks seen during long-term survival. For instance, Dr. Byrne has had over 25 years of experience in a number of major studies of late complications of childhood cancer treatment, especially in studies of the way that cancer treatments can reduce fertility on long-term survivors of childhood cancer. Her work on marriage, fertility, menopause and health problems in offspring of childhood cancer survivors has helped to set the standard for the field.

Although about 120 Irish children are diagnosed with cancer each year, the good news is that treatments for childhood and adolescent cancer have improved greatly. Five- year survival after childhood cancer is now nearly 80% in Ireland, matching European rates. Early diagnosis and treatment, and better supportive care are responsible for the continuing improvements in survival.

However, many survivors may face significant long-term risks to their health and well-being. The most serious health risks are late recurrence of the disease, as well as second cancers, cardiovascular diseases, endocrinological and neuropsychological abnormalities.

Although late effects of cancer treatment are not unique to survivors of childhood cancer, since the cancer treatment is received during periods of growth and development, they are usually more severe than those experienced by adult cancer survivors. Knowledge of health risks can result in changes in therapy that can reduce late complications. Still, information is lacking about how decreasing the intensity of existing treatments or innovative cancer treatments may affect the long-term health of survivors.

This lack of knowledge of long-term side effects provides the rationale for lifelong surveillance of survivors at risk. It should be noted that not all childhood cancer survivors are at risk from late effects and, therefore, surveillance recommendations should be risk-based.

Dr. Michael Capra, paediatric oncologist in Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, voiced enthusiastic support for PanCareSurFup, saying "This project is badly needed, not only to help understand the risks of specific late effects, but also to identify groups of long-term survivors who do not need to worry".

And that is exactly the aim of the PANCARESURFUP project—to develop evidence-based guidelines for long-term care of childhood cancer survivors. A cohort of more than 80,000 survivors will be the backbone of a series of etiological studies on the consequences of cancer therapies.

Part of the mandate of PanCareSurFup includes dissemination of the results of the study. With PanCareSurFup the Boyne Research Institute will be co-sponsoring the first national Irish conference on survivorship after childhood cancer to be held in Dublin in November 2011. The conference will bring together medical experts from Ireland and Europe with survivors and their families and related health professionals to highlight the work of PanCareSurFup and the need for long-term follow-up to prevent late complications of treatment. The Irish Cancer Society is also a co-sponsor of the event.

Through careful follow-up surveillance after therapy, valuable information can become available on the health and well-being of childhood cancer survivors. A better understanding of what to expect after cancer treatment can then help patients and their doctors plan for follow-up care and make important health-related decisions.

Contact person: For more information, please contact:
Dr. Julianne Byrne
Boyne Research Institute
Tiernan House, Fair Green
Tel & Fax: 041-9836041