Actress Angelina Jolie has had surgery to prevent breast cancer
The news today is full of reaction to US actress Angelina Jolie’s decision to have surgery to reduce her chances of breast cancer.
She made this difficult decision because, having lost her mother to ovarian cancer, she discovered she carries a faulty copy of the BRCA1 gene – which put her at very high risk of getting both forms of the disease.
But in the light of the considerable interest, and the fact that many people will undoubtedly have questions, we wanted to pull together a few quick thoughts and facts on the topic of inherited breast cancer generally, and the BRCA1 gene specifically.
We’re the only cancer charity in the UK fighting over 200 cancer types
“Why don’t you spend more on my cancer type?” and “why don’t you do more to highlight awareness?”
These are two questions we hear frequently, and topics that are close to many of our supporters’ hearts.
Understandably, everyone who has lost a loved one to cancer, or themselves struggled against the disease, wants to know that every effort is being made to tackle that particular cancer – whether it’s one of the more common forms such as bowel cancer or lung cancer, or a rarer cancer such as retinoblastoma.
Cancer is complex and it’s not just one disease. In fact, we’re the only cancer charity in the UK fighting over 200 cancer types. In an ideal world, we would make sure that research into all cancer types received the ‘perfect’ level of funding and equal prominence. But there are a number of reasons why this is a very difficult goal to achieve.
In this blog post we’ll look at why this is the case, and what we’re doing to try to address imbalances both in the research that gets funded, and in the coverage each cancer type receives. Continue reading →
Earlier this month we announced trial results showing that giving patients with colon cancer (bowel cancer that originates in the colon) a short course of chemotherapy before surgery, could significantly shrink their tumour. This makes the tumour easier and safer to remove, potentially reducing the chances of it coming back.
We caught up with trial leader Professor Dion Morton, a surgeon based at the University of Birmingham, to find out when patients might begin to benefit from this potentially exciting advance.
Spotting cancer early can save lives. Over the last nine weeks, the Department of Health has been running a campaign called ‘Be Clear on Cancer’, aimed at raising awareness of bowel cancer symptoms.
The campaign ended over the weekend, but keeping the focus on the disease, today marks the start of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.
So we thought it would be a good idea to look at how things have changed for bowel cancer patients over the years, and how continued research has lead to a falling mortality rate.
In the graphic below, you can see how this improvement has been driven by research on bowel cancer, both by our own researchers and by scientists around the world. And you can scroll down to read about this research in more detail.
A study shows that increasing surgery rates for lung cancer could significantly improve survival, and the biggest report to date on lifestyle and cancer pins more than 100,000 cancers a year on preventable causes. And finally, we celebrate the bravery of our Little Stars – children all over the UK who have been diagnosed with cancer.
This research is part of an ongoing project keeping tabs on the degree to which patients have access to cancer surgery across the UK – an essential first step in understanding why inequalities in access to treatment exist and how healthcare providers and policy-makers can change them.
In the UK, lung cancer survival rates continue to lag behind the best in Europe, and improving survival from the disease is a major strategic priority for both Cancer Research UK and the NCRI.
In a session at this year’s NCRI Cancer Conference optimistically titled “Lung cancer treatment: we have lift-off!” there was much to be excited about, but also many challenges that remain unresolved.
In the years we’ve been writing this blog, we’ve published scores of articles looking at how different types of food and drink do or don’t influence a person’s chances of developing cancer. By now everyone should be familiar with our basic advice (and how this topic is frequently misreported in the media).
But we’ve only occasionally touched on what for many of our readers is a much more pressing issue – what to eat when you already have cancer.
This isn’t deliberate; indeed, there’s a very good reason for this: the scientific evidence is much less solid, and it’s very difficult to say anything concrete.
Tonight, Channel 4 airs the first of a new series called The Food Hospital, which will “examine the science behind using food in medicine, tackling patients’ health problems through the food they eat”, according to the accompanying blurb.
To mark the series’ launch, we thought it would be good to highlight some of the online information we have about diet and cancer, and briefly discuss what the evidence does – and doesn’t – say.