A SURGEON who was upset by the number of young women walking through the doors of his clinic suffering from breast cancer set up a charity to help find a way to stop the disease.

Lester Barr, from Lymm, help found Prevent Breast Cancer 20 years ago and the organisation has scientists working at hospitals and universities across the north west to stop the illness.

Since then the charity has worked with more than 60,000 women across the north west on their research projects.

Lester, 62, said: “I became increasingly distressed by treating young women with families for breast cancer and it seemed to be something that never stopped. So the charity was started to try and stop the conveyor belt at the beginning.

“We formed it 20 years ago, in 1997, because at that time nobody was investing money in breast cancer research.

“All the millions of dollars were being spent on finding new treatments and drugs. We thought it would be far better to prevent breast cancer in the first place.

“A small group of us in Manchester became convinced that prevention is better than a cure.

“Even today only three per cent of cancer research money goes into prevention. We passionately believe prevention is the way forward to protect the next generation.”

He explained that understanding of the disease has changed a lot since he started working in Manchester in 1996, with the discovery of the importance of certain genes.

But he added: “Undergoing chemotherapy and surgery is really tough and we think a better way of solving the problem, through prevention, is the way forward. Breast cancer is not caused by one thing, it’s caused by a combination of the genes you’re born with, the environment you have been brought up in and some diet and lifestyle factors. We look at all of those things in our research.”

Money raised by the charity helps fund the biggest group of scientists working on prevention in Europe. They helped raise £2 million towards building The Nightingale Centre at the University Hospital of South Manchester in Wythenshawe, which is the only dedicated breast cancer prevention centre in the country.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and in the past 10 years, the amount of people diagnosed with the disease has increased by 3.6 per cent.

Lymm businesses are going pink for the night on June 23 to fundraise, with special pink beers, cocktails and milkshakes created in honour of the charity. The event starts at Elmas at 7pm and for more information visit preventbreastcancer.org.uk.