There’s a crop of stories about bowel cancer in the news this week, a couple of which have come from the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) conference, which took place on Thursday and Friday.
- New data confirm that bowel screening is effective at detecting the disease at an earlier stage, when treatment is more likely to be successful. However, concerning statistics show that the poorest bowel cancer patients are more likely to die within a month of surgery – a finding that needs addressing urgently.
- Away from the world of stats, two important papers in the journal Nature reveal why some bowel cancers become resistant to treatment. And our researchers in Leeds published results from a small clinical trial testing an exciting new approach for treating bowel cancer – a ‘tweaked’ version of a harmless cold virus. Read more in our press release and on the NHS Choices blog.
HPV and cervical cancer:
- Based on genetic ‘signatures’, US researchers have found that only certain types of cells in a woman’s cervix may be susceptible to HPV infection – the prime cause of cervical cancer.
- In this article in the Guardian, campaigners argue that HPV vaccination should be extended to gay men, as the virus also causes anal and penile cancers.
- Looking outside our own borders, this feature highlights the need for HPV vaccination and cervical screening in countries such as Kenya, where cervical cancer kills thousands of women every year.
Also in the news this week:
- Our researchers at the University of Sussex have solved a 30-year-old genetic puzzle, unravelling the three-dimensional structure of the enzyme PARP. Many researchers around the world are investigating drugs that block PARP – known as PARP inhibitors – and some are currently being tested in clinical trials. Understanding more about the exact size and shape of the enzyme will help researchers develop the next generation of PARP inhibitors.
- The International Association for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organisation, classified diesel fumes as a “Group 1 carcinogen”. Our bloggers discussed what this actually means, with a little expert help from Professor David Philips and some bananas. The NHS Choices blog also covered the issue in depth, pointing out that sunlight and Chinese salted fish are also Group 1 carcinogens.
- NICE has said “no” to new melanoma drug vemurafenib (Zelboraf) on grounds of cost. The drug targets a faulty version of the protein BRAF, discovered by our scientists. Our Chief Clinician Professor Peter Johnson described the decision as frustrating, saying “We want to see Roche offer a price that the NHS can afford.”
- There was some good news from the Treasury this week as Chancellor George Osborne decided to exclude charitable donations from the proposed income tax cap. We were concerned that the proposed cap would lead to reduced contributions from major donors, so this decision is warmly welcomed by charities and their supporters.
- Should you brush up on your teeth-cleaning technique? Although Swedish researchers have suggested there may be a link between increased levels of dental plaque and cancer, the NHS Choices blog highlights holes in the study – namely that it doesn’t actually prove that the plaque causes cancer, as it could be an indicator of other factors.