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Read the latest cancer research news

Here are the cancer stories that caught our eye this week. Click on links to read more in-depth coverage. Think we missed anything? Let us know in the comments below.

  • We released shocking new figures showing that more than 150,000 children every year take up smoking. We need to bring this number down, as we wrote on the blog.
  • One way to do this is to protect children from cigarette marketing. That’s why earlier in the week, we also responded to flawed claims that putting tobacco products into plain, standardised packaging will have no public health benefit. We want plain packaging to help stop the next generation from taking up smoking.

  • For the first time, a US study showed which types of ovarian cancer are linked to endometriosis, a relatively common condition that affects the womb. Our expert commented that the increased risk is small: for women with endometriosis, the lifetime risk of developing the types of ovarian cancers associated with the condition is still under one per cent.
  • We welcomed news that the prostate cancer drug abiraterone has been approved in Wales. It’s currently available via the Cancer Drugs Fund in England, but we think there’s a strong case for it to be routinely funded by the NHS.
  • Early lab work by our scientists showed that a new drug combination could have a powerful ‘domino effect’ to destroy pancreatic cancer cells. We urgently need new treatment options for people with pancreatic cancer, so it’s good this treatment is now being tested in a clinical trial.
  • How quickly GPs refer people with suspected cancer to hospital depends on the patient’s age, sex, ethnicity and the type of cancer, according to new research published yesterday. The study will inform future research to help GPs spot the potential early signs of harder-to-diagnose cancers such as pancreatic cancer. It will also guide work to ensure that patients who aren’t referred quickly enough at the moment – such as younger people – are in the future.
  • Impressive results of a new skin cancer drug called vemurafenib were published this week. The drug is designed to target a gene called BRAF, which our scientists discovered is faulty in over half of melanoma patients. Although this isn’t a cure, it does show the potential of new targeted treatments.
  • Last week it was Tasmanian devils – this week its chickens. Here’s an excellent blog post looking back to how work on understanding a poultry virus paved the way to today’s understanding of cancer
  • And finally, we spotted this great YouTube video about a new campaign to encourage Indian smokers to quit. Whether or not it works, it reminds us that the battle against tobacco is an international one, which needs different tactics in different countries.

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