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Let's beat cancer sooner

  • We published a concerning report about the lack of awareness of the link between obesity and cancer – a story that got widespread coverage, including the BBCthe Guardian, and the Sun. Not only do we need to work to increase awareness among the public but the Government must tackle the obesity epidemic, starting by taking measures to reduce obesity in children. Read more on our blog.
  • Our scientists in Cambridge found that a ‘near infrared’ dye and a specialised camera could help detect pre-cancerous changes to cells linked to oesophageal cancer. Good news, reported by the BBC, for this hard to treat cancer, as with further research it could offer a new way to prevent some cases of this hard-to-treat cancer.
  • An experimental drug appears to be safe in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer when combined with standard chemotherapy, according to a new clinical trial. The drug is a type of immunotherapy that acts to kick the immune system into action against cancer cells. But at the moment it’s too early to tell whether the treatment can boost survival. The Guardian has more information.
  • Are we getting closer to the day when a gene-editing tool, called CRISPR, can be used to shrink tumours? Research, covered by the BBC, showed the technology could trigger a suicide programme in bowel tumour cells in mice – but it’s a long way off being tried in people yet.

Number of the week

18,100

The number of cancer cases linked to being overweight or obese each year in the UK.

  • Lung cancer patients whose tumour has spread to the brain could be spared whole brain radiotherapy, according to our scientists. The radiotherapy made little or no difference to how long they survive, but could cause side effects so avoiding the treatment will increase their quality of life, as reported by the BBC.
  • Our scientists found that oesophageal cancer can be classified into three different diseases, based on distinct DNA ‘signatures’ in the tumour cells. The findings are encouraging, because they could lead to targeted treatments that exploit the cancer’s genetic weaknesses.
  • The GuardianTelegraph and Daily Mail reported new figures showing that the number of British women dying from ovarian cancer has fallen by more than a fifth in 10 years. Scientists believe this could be down to rising use of the Pill and a decline in hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However other factors are also likely to be contributing to these ovarian cancer trends, such as improvements in treatment and lower smoking rates. 
  • Scientists at Swansea University have made headway on a new blood test that they believe could act as a ‘smoke detector’ for cancer. As The Daily Mail reported, the test successfully identified patients who had been diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, but hope it will also predict this cancer, and maybe others, earlier.
  • We and several others reported on a clinical trial that suggested giving extra chemotherapy to patients with non Hodgkin lymphoma may boost the effectiveness of a type of immune cell therapy. But more work is needed to figure out out how the drugs work and to look at long-term effects on survival.

And finally…

  • Could eating ginger and chillislash the risk of cancer’? asks The Sun. Not exactly. This misleading headline is referring to a study that looked at the potential anti-cancer effects of ginger in mice. Research has suggested that capsaicin, the spicy stuff in chillies, could potentially promote cancer development. But this new study found that a molecule in ginger called 6-gingerol could potentially act to counter this effect. But just because this was found in mice, it doesn’t mean that eating ginger will stave off cancer in people.

Comments

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Elizabeth Mackintosh September 21, 2016

Endometrial cancer, what is the average lifespan of sufferers? After diagnosis?

Cyborg1939 September 12, 2016

You are excellent. Thanks. Very informative and without typos etc.