- In other breast cancer news, tamoxifen and similar oestrogen-blocking drugs have been found to reduce breast cancer rates by more than a third in women at high risk. Our press release and blog both have more detail. We also liked this Telegraph piece about tamoxifen.
- Several papers (including the Guardian) covered research about a possible link between cosmetic breast implants and a greater chance of dying from breast cancer. The research does not suggest implants cause cancer, but they may cause a delay in diagnosis. As this excellent NHS Choices analysis says, larger studies are needed to understand this link.
Next Wednesday, in a ceremony full of tradition and colour, the Queen marks the formal start of the parliamentary year.
This will include a speech that sets out the government’s agenda for the coming session, outlining proposed policies and legislation.
We’ve been urging the government to seize this opportunity to replace the slickly designed tobacco packaging with packs of uniform size, shape and colour.
But we’re very concerned by today’s newspaper reports that the government is backing away from including legislation in the speech.
We believe it’s a grave mistake to allow the current situation to continue.
The public consultation on the future of tobacco packaging closed in August 2012 and we’ve been impatiently waiting since then to hear what this government will do about this issue.
Impatiently waiting because every day the government delays taking action sees more than 500 under 16s being lured into smoking, an addiction that will kill half of all long term smokers.
Tens of thousands of our supporters have added their voice to our campaign to protect children from tobacco industry marketing, so we know the public backs this measure.
The evidence shows plain, standardised packs reduce the appeal of smoking, and experts from across the fields of health and law enforcement are fully behind the move.
You might wonder who could possibly oppose this measure. The answer is simple – the group with the most to lose, the tobacco industry and the groups they fund.
Because fewer smokers mean lower profits and less money in the bank for the industry.
If this government doesn’t act, the tobacco industry will get the green light to continue targeting our children with sophisticated and slick designs.
You may have also seen this Japan Tobacco International (JTI) ad popping up in national newspapers recently, part of the £2million advertising campaign that JTI are waging against the introduction of plain packaging.
We’ve written before about misleading and unsubstantiated ads from JTI, which have been banned by the Advertising Standards Agency.
When the tobacco industry is desperate enough to spend so much money on misleading the public, we know we must be on the right path. Private Eye magazine published its own spoof version of the above JTI ad, which we thought was too good not to share:
Indeed… we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
- For more information visit our campaign website – Setting the Standard for cigarette packaging.
Diagnosing a cancer early is one of the factors that can make the biggest difference in its successful treatment.
Launched in 2008, the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative (NAEDI) is a partnership between Cancer Research UK and the Department of Health that aims to tackle diagnosing and detecting cancers early.
One of its key aims is to jump-start research into this crucial area, and last month, a diverse group of researchers descended on the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute for the second NAEDI research conference, to discuss different aspects of research on early cancer diagnosis.
Following an introduction and welcome from Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, Dr Harpal Kumar, the conference kicked off with a fascinating talk from US researcher Dr Christine Berg, the lead investigator on the USA’s national lung cancer screening trial.
Tamoxifen is one of the mainstays of breast cancer treatment. Since the early 1980s, it’s been given to women who’ve had breast cancer to try to stop the disease returning.
As a result, it’s saved the lives of millions around the world, and some regard it as the most important cancer drug ever developed.
But until now it’s not been clear whether tamoxifen and related drugs might have benefits for healthy women. Today’s finding, by an international team led by Cancer Research UK-funded researchers, provides the best evidence yet that these drugs could be used to help prevent breast cancer in women at average and above-average risk of the disease.
This is hugely significant. If benefits are shown to outweigh the risks, offering women at high risk of breast cancer a drug to lower their risk, could potentially prevent many thousands of breast cancer cases in the UK alone.
Let’s look at their findings, and at what happens next.
- For those who don’t know why we want the Government to legislate for plain standardised tobacco packaging, read this excellent Lancet Oncology article.
- We want to give children one less reason to start smoking but interestingly, our research this week showed that standardising cigarette packs also makes them less appealing to existing smokers (press release).
- Some Welsh cancer patients aren’t starting their treatment within government target times. The BBC has more detail.
- The Telegraph published an interesting article about using computers to choose cancer treatments. It’s not the stuff of science fiction, as doctors already use computer programmes to help identify the most suitable treatments for their patients.
- In another sci-fi-like story, US scientists have used radioactive bacteria to treat mice with pancreatic cancer. It’s intriguing work but as this Nature article says, there are several crucial questions that need answering before this research could be harnessed for humans.
- A small but interesting study we funded showed that women are often surprised that breast screening can lead to ‘overdiagnosis’ of cancer, but would rather go for screening than take the risk of missing a cancer that could be treated. Here’s our press release.
- The ‘breast cancer’ drug, Herceptin, could be effective in around two per cent of lung cancers, according to preliminary research reported here.
- An innovative drug development fund, provided in part by our commercial company Cancer Research Technology, backed its first major project this week. Here’s our press release, and we wrote in more detail about the science behind the promising compounds being developed – ‘MPS1 inhibitors’.
- According to a new analysis, rising cancer rates are threatening to ‘overwhelm’ Latin American countries. The BBC has this take.
- The Guardian wrote a fascinating piece about gene patenting and what they describe as “the last-ditch battle over who owns the rights to our DNA”.
- And the New York Times had a great article about how whole genome DNA sequencing will one day become the norm across health care, and the current “arms race” between US institutions to invest in DNA sequencing technologies.
- This article from the American Cancer Society is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding how to distinguish between good quality and questionable quality medical research.
- The BBC’s Robert Peston looked at issues around lung cancer funding.
Clinical trials are vital – they’re how we know which treatments work, how best to use them, and what the side effects are. So running trials quickly and effectively, and sharing their results, is essential if we’re to continue our progress in beating cancer.
On Monday, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee – a group of MPs that scrutinises the Government’s science policies – held an evidence session with academic and charitable research funders, to examine issues around clinical trials.
Our chief clinician, Professor Peter Johnson, was invited to give our view on what needs to be done, alongside representatives from the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council and Association of Medical Research Charities.
You can watch the entire session on the Government’s website here.
One Sunday evening in 2008, after giving her one-year-old daughter a bath, Ruth Hillman noticed Georgia’s tummy felt firmer than usual.
Alarm bells began to ring.
By Wednesday, after seeing several different doctors, Ruth and her husband Ben were told Georgia had a tumour. Further tests showed that it was a Wilms’ tumour – a form of kidney cancer – and Georgia needed intensive treatment.
Georgia’s story is ultimately a happy one – she’s now a healthy five-year-old, and recently started school. Her treatment – surgery and chemotherapy – means she’s among some 33,000 people alive in the UK today who beat cancer in childhood. Although progress in some cancer types has been slow, overall survival rates are now at an all-time high.
But could they be even higher? In the end, Georgia was diagnosed in time, but others aren’t so fortunate. And, as in adults, cancer treatments in children are generally less effective when the disease is spotted late.
They’re also often more intense. As a result, survivors can have long-term disabilities – and with more lives being saved, this has meant an ever-greater focus on how we manage cancers in the youngest members of society.
The problem is that cancers in children are rare, and their symptoms are hard to tell apart from a whole range of more common problems. The average GP will only ever see a single case in their entire career – if at all. And for parents, they may never suspect that an ache or a pain could be something more sinister than childhood’s day-to-day rough and tumble.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the issues surrounding spotting cancers in children, and what’s going on to try to improve things.