Lawrence Cowan: Research is the way to defeat breast cancer but funding that depends on you

Lawrence Cowan, Scotland Manager, Breast Cancer Now
Lawrence Cowan, Scotland Manager, Breast Cancer Now
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Each one of us has the power to help stop breast cancer taking the lives of those we love.

Every year around 4,600 women in Scotland are diagnosed with breast cancer and over 1,000 will lose their life to the disease. At Breast Cancer Now, our ambition is that by 2050, everyone who develops breast 
cancer will live. But to make this a reality we need to act now – and we need to continue to invest in vital research.

It is with the dedication and commitment of our supporters that Breast Cancer Now’s cutting-edge research is made possible; as a charity we simply cannot make progress without their generosity. With every bake sale, marathon or sky-dive, and by donating their time and money, our supporters all give us something much greater – the tools to stop breast cancer in its tracks.

Right now across the UK, we have nearly 450 world-class breast cancer scientists working on more than 90 cutting-edge projects. Our scientists come from a wide range of disciplines. Some are biologists, others geneticists; some are expert statisticians and others are doctors, surgeons and psychologists. They are all working to find ways to prevent, detect, treat and ultimately stop breast cancer.

In Scotland, Breast Cancer Now currently funds seven research grants worth over £2 million.

It’s thanks to our dedicated fundraisers that we can support scientists at the University of Glasgow to understand triple negative breast cancer - a rare and aggressive type of breast cancer - and to identify new drugs that could treat it.

At the University of Stirling, our fundraisers’ money has been invested in research that could help people who are being treated for breast cancer to better recover and cope with their fears about the disease returning.

Breast Cancer Now is also working alongside the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientists Office to jointly fund some of the best breast cancer research projects in Scotland. This includes promising new research at the University of Edinburgh into how testing for BRCA gene mutations should be offered to women after a cancer diagnosis.

It’s also important to note that not all research takes place in the lab. ActWELL is an exciting £1 million research trial, funded by the Scottish Government as part of their £100 million cancer strategy. The trial seeks to test a scheme offering one-to-one lifestyle support to women attending breast screening. This leading research trial is happening right here in Scotland, led by the University of Dundee and supported by Breast Cancer Now.

Our role in ActWELL is to recruit and train volunteers as lifestyle coaches who will work with women to help them make lasting changes focussed around physical activity, diet and weight.

It is estimated that 38 per cent of breast cancer cases in post-menopausal women could be prevented by lifestyle changes linked to inactivity, poor diet, alcohol consumption and weight. This trial could have a considerable impact on reducing the risk of breast cancer in Scottish women.

Together, we are unravelling this complex disease piece by piece. Incredible progress is being made but our work can only continue with the generosity of people across Scotland. To keep pace and continue to make ground-breaking discoveries, we must invest at least £300 million in our vital research over the next 10 years.

We’ve identified the gaps in research and we know what needs to be done to fill them. Now, we’re looking for the boldest fundraisers and donors, the most determined campaigners and the brightest researchers to help us achieve our goal.

We need amazing people to keep running, keep baking, keep dancing, keep skydiving and most importantly to keep giving.

Every one of them is a hero, helping to save lives from breast cancer.

Our 2050 vision is only possible if we all continue to work together. On behalf of Breast Cancer Now, I want to sincerely thank everyone who has supported our work and continues to do so.

Thank you.

Lawrence Cowan, Scotland Manager, Breast Cancer Now