The evidence on physical activity and cancer were discussed
As regular readers will know, we were at the annual National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) conference in Liverpool last week.
We blogged daily updates from the conference (here’s day one, day two, day three and day four), but a couple of the sessions merited a deeper look. So here’s a write-up from a session that may resonate with many of our readers – the effects of exercise and body weight in people who have had cancer.
Although it’s certainly not a cast-iron guarantee against developing the disease, a healthy lifestyle can help to prevent cancer – the latest estimates suggest that more than four in ten cases could be prevented through lifestyle changes.
But the effects of keeping a healthy lifestyle are less well studied among people who already have the disease. The NCRI session looked at the latest evidence, and what it means.
The annual ASCO conference is a highlight of the scientific year
The annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is probably the largest gathering of cancer specialists in the world. Almost 30,000 experts assembled in Chicago over the weekend for arguably the most important meeting in the cancer research calendar.
In its 46th year, this year’s meeting has revealed some exciting results from clinical trials of new treatment approaches, as well as setting out the challenges that we must rise to if we are to beat cancer. Here are highlights of a couple of talks that caught our attention.
Monoclonal antibodies can be used to treat cancer
There are so many different types of cancer drugs coming into the clinic that it can sometimes be hard to keep up. Among the most exciting additions in the last decade are monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) – Herceptin and rituximab are two examples.
Rituximab was the first mAb to be licensed in the UK. It has transformed the outlook for many people with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and has just been approved for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. But we still don’t fully understand how this and other mAbs work.
Cancer Research UK’s Professor Martin Glennie from the University of Southampton is an expert on antibody therapies. He gave a fascinating talk at the NCRI Cancer Conference on his latest research. In this short video, Professor Glennie and Dr Juliet Gray talk about their work on a new antibody treatment for neuroblastoma – a form of childhood cancer.
Professor Ashok Venkitaraman reported his research on unstable chromosomes
With just 24 hours’ notice, Professor Ashok Venkitaraman stepped in at the NCRI conference to deliver an enlightening talk on how chromosomes become unstable in cancer, after the planned speaker had to cancel at the last moment.
Professor Venkitaraman’s specialist field is ‘chromosome instability’ – the way the cell’s genetic information becomes more and more garbled in the development and progression of cancer.
His goals are to understand exactly how chromosomal instability can drive the development of cancer, and to translate this knowledge into advances in cancer diagnosis and treatment.
One of the sessions at this year’s NCRI conference was on the theme of ‘The cost of cancer care’ and included those hotly debated topics of drug approval by NICE and regional variations in cancer spend (aka the ‘postcode lottery‘).
So it was unsurprising that the lecture theatre was packed to the rafters, with some people resorting to perching on the steps.