The event was hosted by Susan G. Komen For The Cure – a US-based breast cancer charity –and we were there to hear specifically about global efforts against breast and cervical cancers.
The agenda was packed, and while it might seem like a strange list of speakers, astronaut Ronald J Garan Jr, former First Lady Laura Bush and CSI: Miami actress Eva La Rue all had their own unique insights to offer on beating cancer worldwide.
But before the main talks, the conference opened with an inspiring video which really brought home the key message: that collaboration is essential if we are to beat cancer, and that every individual effort makes a difference.
The headline finding, as Cancer Research UK reports on its newsfeed is that testing a woman’s smear samples for the human papillomavirus (HPV) predicts who is likely to go on develop early signs of cervical cancer up to 18 years later.
And the study, which involved 4,000 women, showed the power of testing samples for the virus was much greater than the existing test – cytology – which looks down a microscope for abnormal cells.
This is not surprising. But it is new, and extremely important, as we’ll see below.
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.
We’re working hard to solve this problem, and we’re excited to announce a major new partnership with Tesco. By working together we will find ways to close the gap between survival rates in the UK and the best countries in Europe so that thousands more will survive cancer in the future.
It’s mid-January, and while many resolutions will still be going strong, some may have already fallen by the wayside. But it’s worth sticking to those healthy plans. Living a healthy life can make you feel more energetic and relaxed, and can reduce the risk of developing cancer.
As ever, the past year’s been a busy one in the field of lifestyle and cancer prevention. In this post we take a look back over the year and pick out some of the exciting developments in research, policy and campaigns.
Some findings have hinted at new information, whilst others have strengthened our existing knowledge. And others have not so much found an answer, as posed new questions.
There’s been another glut of fascinating stories this week, most of which focused on aspects of the NHS. Here’s our digest – follow the links for the full story:
On Monday, we announced that we’d enrolled the first patients into our Stratified Medicine Programme – which aims to help the NHS establish a world-class genetic testing service, while simultaneously generating data for research. As well as our press release, we published full details, including a map, a list of genes to be tested, and a video explaining the programme, on this blog.
Tuesday’s news was dominated by a story that showed cancer patients were living much longer than in the 1970s. But the report didn’t find improvements across the board. Some types of cancer have seen dramatic improvements, while others have barely changed – further highlighting how much more work we still have to do
As we said above, several stories this week focused on NHS cancer care. The first was an investigation by GP newspaper which found – alarmingly – that several NHS trusts aren’t prescribing cancer drugs that NICE has approved. If this turns out to be the case, it’s extremely concerning, and we’ll be keeping an eye on how this story progresses.
We posted a piece about the Government’s NHS reforms and what could mean for people with cancer – a topic that’s generating a lot of media interest at the moment.
Researchers at our Beatson Institute in Glasgow, leading an international team of scientists, made an intriguing discovery about how melanoma spreads
On Friday, research by the Royal College of GPs looked at how long people had to wait before seeing a cancer specialist. Overall, they found that nearly three quarters of patients only saw a GP once or twice before being referred.
Also on Friday, the Department of Health announced it had decided to switch the HPV vaccine it uses to one that protects against virus strains that cause both genital warts and cervical cancer (the previous vaccine only protected against the strains that cause cancer). Here’s their press release.
We discussed how we were concerns about media reports of people fundraising for an unproven US cancer clinic.
And finally, results of a decade-long French trial showed that some younger patients with an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, known as ‘diffuse B-cell’ lymphoma, might benefit from more intensive chemotherapy than normal. The big caveat here is that the side effects are consequently more severe, so doctors will need to carefully select who will benefit.
Cancer research is constantly moving forward – we’ve already spotted several interesting stories for the week ahead, so keep your eyes peeled, and see you next week.
Click on the image to listen to the latest podcast
In this month’s podcast we discuss a new prostate cancer drug that has been licensed in the UK and investigate how red tape is hindering European cancer trials.
New research shows that HPV testing could save thousands of women from having unnecessary cancer tests, and we take a look at a new study investigating whether beta-blockers could prevent cancer spread. Plus, should fair-skinned people take vitamin D supplements?