Today, leaders from cancer organisations across the world – from Australia to Argentina, and Taiwan to Turkey – have issued a joint statement about how to address the growing burden of cancer worldwide.
It’s the first time that so many eminent cancer scientists and policy makers, from so many nations, have spoken with one voice about what needs to be done to combat cancer – in the poorest as well as the richest nations.
The statement comes off the back of a consensus meeting of 25 leaders of cancer organisations, chaired by our Chief Executive, Dr Harpal Kumar, and Professor Harold Varmus, Director of the US National Cancer Institute.
It aims both to raise the profile of global cancer issues, and to act as an urgent clarion call to action. The report is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine – but we’ve summarised its key points below. Continue reading →
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 arelinked 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.
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.
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.
Can cancer be prevented? Decades of research have shown that a person’s chances of getting cancer depends on a mishmash of their genes and their environment, but also certain aspects of their lives, many of which they can control.
As our press release says, these latest calculations, based on predicted cases for 2010, show that smoking, diet, alcohol and obesity are behind more than 100,000 cancers. This is equivalent to one third of all cancers diagnosed in the UK each year.
And this figure further increases to around 134,000 when taking into account all 14 lifestyle and environmental risk factors analysed in this study.
But to help make sense of the vast quantity of information contained in the 91-page report, we’ve also put together a graphic that shows the proportion of cancers that can be prevented through lifestyle changes. It’s worth spending a minute or so looking at the key to understand how to interpret the graphic (which you can download as a larger PDF version).
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?
Professor Herbie Newell is optimistic about the future of cancer research
Cancer Research UK: For you, what were the hot topics in cancer research last year?
Herbie Newell: I think it’s a reflection of how exciting everything is at the moment that to do that question justice would take a huge amount of time – because there are so many hot topics.
My personal area of research is the discovery of new cancer medicines. And the hot topic there is the concept of ‘stratified medicine’, whereby you combine a targeted therapy with a ‘predictive biomarker’ to select the right patients to treat – and when you do that, you get extremely encouraging results.