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Let's beat cancer sooner

Do burger wrappers really contain cancer-causing chemicals? Credit: Flickr/CC BY 2.0

  • World Cancer Day hit the papers on Friday as we released figures predicting women’s cancer rates will rise faster than men’s over the next 20 years if trends continue. The Guardian and Telegraph were among the many media outlets to cover the stats.
  • A test that picks up chemicals in breath samples can spot the difference between samples from people diagnosed with oesophageal or stomach cancers and those who were found to be cancer-free, reported the Telegraph, Sun and Daily Mail. The results were presented at a European conference, so still need to be published in a scientific journal, and further research is needed to back up claims that these tests can detect cancer early.
  • Two infants, with an aggressive form of leukaemia, who had previously run out of treatment options, have now been disease free for a year, thanks to an experimental treatment using engineered immune cells made in the lab. We reported on these promising, early results.

Number of the week

4.5 million

The estimated number of women who will be diagnosed with cancer by 2035.

  • According to the BBC and Guardian, the price of ‘generic’ cancer medicines (drugs which are no longer under patent restrictions) is rising. Common treatments such as the breast cancer drug tamoxifen are ten times more expensive than in 2011, say the reports.
  • Early findings of a study looking at the links between diabetes and pancreatic cancer were presented at a conference, it’s something we’ve written about in depth before. The Telegraph and Daily Mail covered the story, and NHS Choices took a look at the findings. While most people with diabetes don’t develop pancreatic cancer, research like this may help us understand how the two conditions are linked.
  • The All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health put the government under pressure this week to publish its tobacco control strategy, as new figures revealed the social care costs of smoking. Our news report has the details.
  • History was made in Southend Hospital, Essex as a surgeon removed a cancerous breast tumour using a specialised vacuum. This is the first time the approach has been used to remove a cancerous tumour, as the patient reportedly had other conditions that meant this approach was suitable over surgery, according to the Daily Mail.
  • Data gurus predicted 2017 to be the year that ‘big data’ becomes mainstream, and may already be the case for breast cancer research. Our scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, used large sets of data to map out how the shape of breast cancer cells is linked to their genes. We blogged about the findings, and here’s our press release.
  • Researchers at Yale in the US have taken a ‘completely unexpected’ turn in research that could lead to new brain tumour treatments, reported Business Insider. The team found certain brain tumour cells were very sensitive to an already approved ovarian cancer drug in the lab. We also covered the story.
  • Prostate cancer patients, who have a high chance of their cancer coming back, may benefit from a hormone drug alongside radiotherapy after surgery. We covered this US-based trial.

And finally

  • Burger wrappers in the US, among other fast food packaging, may contain ‘potentially harmful chemicals’ reports the Telegraph. But the study didn’t measure these chemicals – called PFASs – in food or in people and there’s no good evidence that PFASs cause cancer in humans.

Gabi