A Little Lolly Goes a Long Way!

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- Show your support for the Oesophageal Cancer Fund this Lollipop Day, 27th and 28th February -
-      Campaign Supported by Irish med tech company Medtronic –  

23rd February – Ireland’s only fundraising and awareness campaign for oesophageal cancer, Lollipop Day, will run across the country on 27th and 28th February. It is organised by the Oesophageal Cancer Fund (OCF) and supported by the premier medical technology and services company, Medtronic. The aim of the campaign is to increase public awareness of the symptoms of oesophageal cancer and to highlight how the cancer can be prevented or diagnosed early to improve cure rates. The OCF is calling on the public to buy a lollipop for €2 and to be aware of the symptoms which are sometimes mistaken for conditions like heartburn or acid reflux.

Ireland has one of the highest rates of oesophageal cancer in Europe amongst men and women with almost 450 new cases diagnosed each year and the National Cancer Registry Ireland (NCRI) predicts the figure to rise to at least 800 by 2040. Greater awareness of the risk factors, including severe or chronic acid reflux, smoking and obesity, is crucial. Early detection is vital, as early oesophageal cancer can be cured in a high percentage of cases, often with innovative approaches that are less severe than surgery or chemotherapy.

Urging people with oesophageal cancer symptoms to consult their GP, Minister for Health, Dr Leo Varadkar TD said: “Early detection in all cancers is vital and is still the best way to protect yourself, because it leads to better outcomes. The symptoms are easy to remember, and I urge anyone with concerns to contact their GP, who is the best person to advise them. Early oesophageal cancer can be cured in a high percentage of cases. I want to congratulate the Oesophageal Cancer Fund for its vital work in raising public awareness of this disease.”

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Noelle Ryan, OCF Chairperson said: “Since the OCF began this campaign 14 years ago, we have seen an increased awareness among Irish people of oesophageal cancer. We are calling on people to support Lollipop Day, supported by Medtronic, by purchasing a lollipop and urging those experiencing swallowing difficulties; those who suffer with chronic or severe persistent reflux symptoms such as heartburn to attend their GP for advice.”

Speaking at the launch, Donal Balfe of Medtronic said: “The Lollipop Day campaign has played a significant role in creating public awareness of the symptoms of oesophageal cancer. Medtronic are proud to support the campaign and involving employees across our facilities in Dublin, Galway, Athlone and Tullamore in fundraising and activities.”

The OCF has donated over €800,000 to a comprehensive registry of Barrett’s oesophagus in Ireland’s population. With 3,151 patients registered to date, this links six hospitals in Ireland to the national Barrett’s Registry. This initiative has brought together surgeons, gastroenterologists and scientists from each of the hospitals to work towards the common goal of targeting oesophageal cancer prevention and early diagnosis.

A 10-year audit undertaken at St James’s Hospital in 2013 showed that with approaches including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery, the cure rate of such cases is now approximately 40%, compared with 20% a decade ago.

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Speaking at the launch, Prof. John Reynolds, St. James’s Hospital and the head of the Barrett’s Oesophagus Register project, said: “This is a difficult cancer to treat, but like all cancer the earlier it is caught the easier it is to cure, and prevention and early diagnosis are our best strategies for the future. At this centre, we have seen an approximate 50% improvement in the cure rate in recent years compared with a decade ago, this is very promising. As well there is an increasing percentage of patients presenting with earlier stage disease, some of which can be treated without major surgery or chemotherapy. A greater awareness of risk factors, including Barrett’s oesophagus, as well as improved quality of all aspects of treatment are elements underpinning advances in care and outcomes. Finally, we hope that the leadership from Ireland in the neo-AUGIS trial will establish the new gold standard in the management of oesophageal cancer internationally.”

For more information on Lollipop Day 2015 and the Oesophageal Cancer Fund:
www.lollipopday.ie
www.Facebook.ie/Lollipopday
Twitter: @LollipopDayIE
Risk factors for oesophageal cancer:
Barrett’s oesophagus (long-term regurgitation of acid)
Long history of chronic heartburn
Age, people between the ages of 40 – 45 years old need to be particularly vigilant
More common in men
Smoking
Heavy alcohol use
Obesity, increased incidence in obese patients

For further information contact:
Drury|Porter Novelli – Breena Cooper / Luke McDonnell Tel: 01 260 5000 (087-1214607 BC) (085-7127243 LMD)
Email: Breena.cooper@drurypn.ie / luke.mcdonnell@drurypn.ie

About the Oesophageal Cancer Fund
The Oesophageal Cancer Fund (OCF) is a registered charity set up in 2002 by friends of Lucilla Hyland to raise awareness of and money for research into oesophageal cancer.
Awareness for the OCF and Lollipop Day has grown year on year with €235,000 raised in 2014 bringing to just over €2.6 million euro that has been raised by the OCF to date. Lollipop Day volunteers sell lollipops (€2) throughout Ireland to raise funds for Lollipop Day. Fact sheets and posters for display in surgery waiting rooms containing information on Oesophageal Cancer have also been circulated to General Practitioners and Pharmacists nationwide.

About Medtronic
Medtronic plc (www.medtronic.com), headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, is the global leader in medical technology – alleviating pain, restoring health, and extending life for millions of people around the world.
Any forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties such as those described in Medtronic’s periodic reports on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Actual results may differ materially from anticipated results.