Sunday afternoon at the NCRI conference was packed with talks from some of the world’s leading cancer experts.
Kat’s already blogged about Michel Coleman’s public lecture on cancer survival in the UK versus Europe, and we’ll be bringing you more in-depth posts about some of the main sessions once we’ve written them up.
But for now, here’s a taster of Sunday’s plenary sessions.
The alarm bells were rung over talc last week, thanks to new research showing an increase in risk of ovarian cancer among women who regularly use talcum powder.
The new study compared about 1,400 women who had ovarian cancer with 1,800 healthy women to see if using talc had any effect on their risk of cancer. It found that women who used talc regularly had 36% higher risk of ovarian cancer.
The study also reported that certain genes affected this link, including the GSTT1 gene which helps to process chemicals in the body. The study found that the link between talc and ovarian cancer was stronger in women who lacked a working copy of this gene.
Is this cause for concern? Let’s take a look at the rest of the evidence.
Are we really the “sick man of Europe”?
Professor Michel Coleman, one of the world’s leading experts on cancer statistics and population studies, opened the NCRI conference with a quote from Disraeli. Not “Lies, damned lies and statistics” (often misattributed to the 19th Century prime minister) but this:
“The health of the people is really the foundation upon which their happiness and all their powers as a state depend.”
The annual NCRI Cancer Conference in Birmingham is the biggest event of its kind in the UK, bringing together scientists, doctors, nurses and patient groups to showcase the latest advances in cancer research from the UK and around the world.
We’ll be there from Sunday through to Wednesday, bringing you the latest news and podcasts from the conference, so watch this space.
To whet your appetite, here’s an interview with the new NCRI Chairman, Professor Sir Kenneth Calman, explaining his hopes for the conference, and his experiences as a leading cancer doctor.
The idea that medical treatment in the future will be delivered entirely by automatons may still be in the realm of science fiction, but there’s one area where computers could play an important role in helping out busy doctors.
Breast screening under pressure
Here in the UK we’re lucky enough to have a highly effective NHS breast screening programme, offering regular mammograms to all women from the age of 50. And research suggests that in England alone the programme saves more than a thousand lives every year.
But it’s also a programme under pressure. The demands of providing three-yearly screenings (thought to be the optimal interval) can prove too much in some areas, and the time period can slip to three and a half or even four years. This is bad news, when you consider that early detection is the key to successful cancer treatment.
Because it’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, the October podcast is a special breast cancer edition. In the news, we find out whether computers could replace doctors when it comes to looking at mammograms, and reveal the worrying gap in breast cancer survival between rich and poor.
Cancer information nurse Becky Partridge tells us the best way to be breast aware – it’s not all about looking for lumps – and we hear from a breast cancer survivor who’s braving the North Sea to raise money for our vital research. Plus Professor Helen Hurst talks about her research into breast tumours that have become resistant to the drug tamoxifen, and shares her hopes for the future of treatment for the disease.
To listen, simply go to the podcast homepage, where you can hear the show directly through our Flash player, or click on the player below:
Or click here to download the October podcast (15Mb) straight to your computer.
If you’re using iTunes, this is the direct iTunes link.
And there’s also a full transcript of the podcast here.
Hope you enjoy it – please let us know what you think by responding here in the comments!
On Monday, several national newspapers, including the Mail and the Express, reported that “just one glass of cherry juice a day can slow down the ageing process – and may even save your life”.
“A tumbler of 250ml of diluted juice,” we were told, “offers better protection against cancer, heart disease and stroke than more than 20 typical portions of fruit and vegetables,”
This claim was backed up nutritionists including Patrick Holford – who’s credibility has been the subject of repeated attacks from Ben Goldacre and his Bad Science pals – and who, a year ago, the Advertising Standards Authority found to be making claims that were ‘likely to mislead’ in leaflet he was sending out.