Professor reveals the future of cancer treatment during annual Women’s Institute meeting in Norwich

The future for the treatment of breast cancer and other chronic illnesses will be genetics-based and tailored to the individual patient, a meeting in Norwich was told yesterday.

Professor Stephen Holgate, of Southampton University, revealed how genetic research is enabling scientists to develop new treatments for breast cancer and dementia which are specific to an individual patients' needs.

Speaking at the Norfolk Women's Institute Annual Meeting at St Andrew's Hall, Prof Holgate said the findings fill him with optimism that one day serious illnesses, such as cancer, will be prevented and cured.

He said: 'In the next 10 years we are going to have the knowledge to not only suppress nasty diseases, but to prevent them as well.

'Faced with a common cancer, like breast cancer, the tumours from different patients may look the same, but the genetic code is different. Breast cancer can be 30 different diseases with different pathways.

'But science has allowed us to develop an understanding of what these pathways are, which allows us to develop treatments which cater to those specific types of breast cancer.

'It gives me tremendous optimism because it helps tell us what we need to do to prevent them in the first place.'

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Hundreds of women descended on Norwich yesterday to take part in the annual meeting of the Norfolk Federation of Women's Institutes.

More than 750 women packed St Andrew's Hall to peruse displays and listen to speakers, which included Pensthorpe Nature Reserve co-owner Deb Jordan and Barbara Stephenson from Dementia UK.

The event was organised to give 177 Women's Institute branches across the county the chance to socialise and share experiences, with many groups collecting awards for their long service in the community.

Cindy Brookes, secretary of Norfolk Federation of Women's Institutes, said: 'So many people wanted to get involved this year that we had to turn some of the ladies away because the hall was simply not big enough to take them.

'We do this meeting once a year to gather all our members together so they can meet up with women from other WIs across the county and continue their friendships.

'We had the business of annual meeting itself here today, but we have also had a mixture of informative and light hearted speeches.'

The Federation Annual Meeting was launched by the sheriff of Norwich, Derek James, and was followed by an address by the Norfolk Women's Institute chairman, Sally Paramour.

Displays throughout St Andrew's Hall provided details of up-and-coming events, the chance to donate money to charity, as well as fund raising.