Some of the country's top cancer doctors today climbed Everest  - or at least its Cork equivalent, Patrick's Hill - as part of a major fundraising drive.

The aim is to raise €275,000 for a genetic sequencing machine for Cork University Hospital (CUH). Almost €54,810 had been donated by 9pm on May 31.

It took the eight teams of runners and walkers just over four and a half hours "to summit Everest" ascending the hill 221 times or a total of 8,848 metres.

Organiser Dr Dearbhaile Collins, a medical oncologist, said all local doctors in her specialty were climbing 'Everest' because they wanted this machine for their cancer patients. "It will really improve the cancer care we can deliver."

A genetic sequencing machine is used by pathologists to identify individual mutations within cancer cells, allowing for targeted treatments.

CUH's Clinical Director of Cancer Services, Dr Richard Bambury, who was also among the runners, explained: "This will allow us to do indepth genetic analysis of individual patients' tumours and we will use this information to match the best treatment to their particular tumour." 

The information will also be used to find suitable clinical trials for new emerging treatments for cancer patients in the Munster area and allow for research into better treatments for future patients to be undertaken in collaboration with University College Cork and and Cork Institute of Technology.

The Cork University Hospital Charity has committed €100,000 towards the project and €75,000 has already been raised by the Karen Fenton Ovarian Cancer Fund.

Karen died three years ago from ovarian cancer having spent her last two months under the care of medical staff at Cork University Hospital.

Professor Seamus O'Reilly, Consultant Oncologist at the Mercy and South Infirmary Victoria hospitals, said all great ideas have a seed and in this case it was Karen and her family's determination to improve ovarian cancer therapy in the region.

"They were the seed and when we look at the machine, we will think of Karen and what is her legacy for cancer care in our community," he said.