Ireland’s first independent prostate cancer centre opens

Ireland’s First Independent Prostate Cancer Centre Opens
The new clinical research facility is at the heart of the Patrick G. Johnston Centre for Cancer Research at Queen’s University. Photo: PA
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By Claudia Savage, PA

Ireland’s first independent Prostate Cancer Centre of Excellence has opened at Queen’s University Belfast.

The facility is at the heart of the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research in Belfast and will deliver clinical trials and test new, promising treatments to both improve cancer outcomes and reduce treatment-related side effects.


Prostate cancer takes the lives of almost 800 men across the island each year, and is one of the most common cancers among men.

The new Prostate Cancer Centre of Excellence builds on the work that has taken place with The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester since 2016.

Student accommodation in Belfast
Queen’s University in Belfast is home to the prostate cancer centre (PA) 


This work has included a world first, successful clinical trial which has shown how a new combination of radiotherapies has improved the treatment of very advanced prostate cancer in men.

It is the first time that this combination of therapies has been tested in a clinical trial and has been proven to be safe and tolerable in this population of men.

In a boost to the local economy, the Belfast centre will create jobs for clinical trial staff, clinical fellows, lab scientists and PhD students, and was made possible thanks to a generous philanthropic donation of £1.6 million (€1.84 million).

Speaking at the launch, Professor Ian Greer, vice-chancellor at Queen’s, said the centre would transform research in Ireland.


“This new centre is the first independent Prostate Cancer Centre of Excellence on this island and will transform prostate cancer research in Northern Ireland, and further afield, helping to improve the lives of patients through innovations in treatment,” he said.

“Tackling cancer is an integral part of the university’s ‘One Health’ approach and highlights our ability to lead and deliver high quality research with real patient impact.

“This centre is another example of Queen’s playing a major role in developing cutting-edge treatments and improving patient care to improve the prospects for cancer patients and their families, both here and across the world.”

Northern Ireland university vaccine initiative
Vice-chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast Prof Ian Greer praised the new centre (PA)

More than 4,500 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year across the island of Ireland each year.

Iain Creswell is a prostate cancer survivor who has taken part in a clinical trial at Queen’s.

Mr Creswell said that telling his family he had been diagnosed with cancer was “one of the worst things”.


“Although I told my wife when I was first diagnosed that it was possible that I would have to go through tests, I didn’t tell the rest of my family,” he said.

“I have two grown-up daughters and a grown-up son and they have children of their own and I didn’t want anybody worrying but when I was told by the oncology specialist nurse, ‘you have cancer’, it hits you like a sledgehammer.”

Mr Creswell said participating in the clinical trial made him feel like he had “done something towards” finding new treatments.

“Because of the trial, I’ve been getting blood tests taken every six months and they are showing that the cancer is virtually undetectable so as far as everyone is concerned, it is gone,” he said.

Troubles victims
The centre at Queen’s University in Belfast will create jobs for clinical trial staff (PA)

The new research centre is led by Suneil Jain, professor of clinical oncology, and Joe O’Sullivan, professor of radiation oncology.

Prof O’Sullivan said he was “thrilled” to be launching the centre of excellence.

“We already have a strong track record in Belfast of developing novel clinical research, so we want to build on this to help develop the cancer treatments of the future,” he said.

Prof Jain added: “The Prostate Cancer Centre of Excellence will link world-class research at Queen’s with clinical trials at the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre.

“We hope our work will benefit men and their families who are facing their own very personal prostate cancer journeys.”

The Prostate Cancer Centre of Excellence will act as an access point for industrial partnerships, medical devices and pharmaceuticals and will focus on advanced radiotherapy, drug radiotherapy combination studies and big data analysis.

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