NETs in Ireland

The NNCP (National Cancer Control Program) is engaged in establishing an integrated and coordinated national approach to handling NET diagnosis and treatment in Ireland.  This is part of the NCCP’s focus on rare cancers following its successful approach to dealing with more mainstream cancers such as lung, breast and prostate.

The first stage in this plan is the appointment of Professor Dermot O’Toole from St James Hospital in Dublin as the National Clinical Lead for Neuroendocrine Tumours. Prof. O’Toole was appointed to this role in June 2013 and he is tasked with establishing a Centre of Excellence for the treatment of Neuroendrcine Tumours in Ireland. It is planned to achieve Centre of Excellence accreditation with ENETS within the next few years.

Irish NET Practitioners:

St Vincent’s University Hospital
Prof Dermot O’Toole
Prof Donal O’Shea
Mr Justin Geoghegan
Mr Donal Maguire

Mercy University Hospita:
Mr Criostóir Ó Súilleabháin
Dr Derek Power

Galway University Hospital
Dr Gregory Leonard
Dr Marcia Bell

The Centre of Excellence for NETs will operate on a multi-centre platform between St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin, Mercy University Hospital Cork in the south and Galway University Hospital in the west.  This will improve service levels for Irish patients with increased exposure to new treatments and approaches, inclusion in drug and other trials, as well as other benefits.

Professor Dermot O’Toole is a world renowned expert on neuroendocrine tumours.  He has been principal investigator and/or coordinator in many national and international research activities in Gastrointestinal (GI) oncology and neuroendocrine tumours.  He is currently serving on the executive committee of the European Neuroendocirne Tumour Society (ENETS).

MDT or multi-disciplinary team approach is recognised internationally as best practice in dealing with any type of cancer.  NETs are no different and this approach is taken in Irish hospitals.  Hospitals dealing with cancer hold regular MDT meetings at which there are oncologists, surgeons, endocrinologists, radiographers, radiologists, specialist nurses and other disciplines.  Each case is considered by the group who can collectively decide on the best approach to dealing with each patients treatment.

Part of the proposal to implement an Irish Centre of Excellence for NETs is to make use of communications technology to hold “virtual” MDT meetings between the personnel at the different hospitals around Ireland.  This will ensure that NET patients from anywhere in the country can benefit from the shared experience of all the NET specialists in Ireland.

There is a strong relationship between Ireland and Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden.  Uppsala is world renowned as one of the foremost and most experienced centres of excellence with a long established history of dealing with NETs and leading research into improved therapies and treatments.

PRRT (Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy)  is a very specialist form of nuclear medicine which is only performed at a small number of locations around the world.  Uppsala is one such centre offering this treatment and this is available to Irish NET patients, many of whom have already successfully received this treatment.  PRRT works by injecting a radiation-laced peptide which attaches itself to somatostatin receptor-positive tumors and the radiation then kills the tumours.

Access to treatments in Uppsala, or other specialist treatments available in another EU/EEA country that are not available in Ireland, are handled through the E112 Treatment Abroad Scheme with the costs covered by the HSE.  This is implemented under EU regulations, in which you are entitled to medical benefits on the same basis as nationals in these countries, if your treatment there is authorised by the HSE.