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.
Over half the world’s cancer deaths occur in developing countries
Despite common (mis)conception that cancer is a ‘modern’ disease of Western society (which we’ve discussed here), well over half of the world’s cancer deaths happen in developing countries. But it’s true that many cases of cancer are linked to our lifestyles. And, as people in the poorer countries of the world start living longer and adopting more Western lifestyles, cancer rates will rise.
And while breakthroughs in prevention, diagnosis and treatment are made in the richer parts of the world, too often their benefits don’t reach the world’s poorest.
For example, eight out of 10 cancer patients in Africa have no access to radiotherapy, while endoscopies, biopsies, chemotherapy and pain relief are also too often unavailable.
This growing problem was the subject of a pivotal session at this year’s NCRI conference. We heard from three leading experts working to improve cancer outcomes across the world – Cancer Research UK’s Professor Max Parkin, Dr Rengaswamy Sankaranarayanan from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and Dr Rajendra Badwe from the Tata Memorial Centre in Mumbai.
That’s all folks!
Before the final day of the conference started, we once again awoke to news stories based on research presented over the last few days.
The BBC led with figures released at the conference showing that the economic cost of cancer tops £15bn a year in the UK. Drawing on the same figures, the Daily Mail highlighted the staggering toll of lung cancer in the UK – £2.4 billion per year – which is more than other common cancers such as breast and bowel.
We agree with their headline that there’s an urgent need to stop younger people from taking up smoking – the major cause of lung cancer.
It was another day of fascinating talks
It’s been another packed day at the NCRI conference, full of interesting discussion and debate (as were yesterday’s and Sunday’s sessions).
But before we get stuck into the day’s events, it’s worth flagging the overnight media coverage from the meeting, with OnMedica covering this story on prostate screening, while the BBC was one of several news outlets to cover a promising potential method to detect cancer.
And now to the main event.
It was a beautiful morning in Liverpool
Welcome back to our coverage of this year’s NCRI cancer conference. We woke up this morning to some great media coverage.
The BBC was one of several sources to report a small step forward in bowel cancer research, the Scotsman reported worrying findings about complications in gynaecological cancer surgery, while MedicalXpress carried this story about HPV tests for head-and-neck cancers.
Hope for myeloma
Back in the convention centre, the morning’s first lecture came from the US Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Professor Kenneth Anderson, a world-leading expert in myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow. Prof Anderson brought a message of hope for myeloma patients, showing how survival from this less common cancer has doubled over recent decades thanks to advances in treatment and new drugs such as bortezomib (Velcade) and lenalidomide (Revlimid).
But the best is yet to come, as Anderson explained how lab research is informing the development of new combinations of existing drugs as well as brand new targeted agents. He showed slide after slide of exciting, promising data from early stage clinical trials.
These new treatment regimes are being put through their paces in larger trials and, judging by the excitement in Anderson’s voice, they could bring forward a real prospect of long-term survival for myeloma patients of the future.
Professor Joan Massague speaking at the 2012 NCRI Cancer Conference
It’s November, which means we’re in Liverpool again for the annual NCRI Cancer Conference.
Researchers from around the world will be spending the next three days in the BT Convention Centre on the River Mersey, discussing the latest and greatest developments in cancer research.
Tomorrow the conference really gets going, with a packed agenda planned – but we’ve heard several interesting talks this afternoon already.
Increasing access to radiotherapy could save lives
We’ve written before about 2011 being the Year of Radiotherapy and at the NCRI Cancer Conference earlier this month we had an update on progress from those involved in this important initiative, aimed at getting radiotherapy a greater share of the limelight.
We heard that progress is being made towards increasing patient access to the latest radiotherapy techniques, and that there has been a lot of publicity showing the benefits of this treatment in beating cancer. And in an era of personalised medicine, session chair Professor Tim Maughan described radiotherapy as the ultimate targeted treatment.
He announced how radiotherapy research in the UK has been given a boost through recent new funding from Cancer Research UK – building on the fact that four of our Centres already have a specific remit to focus on research into this treatment.
Here are some more highlights from the session.