In the previous post, we looked at some of our research successes in fundamental cancer biology over the past year.
Another important aspect of our work is understanding cancer risks, and finding ways to prevent the disease.
Here are just a few examples of our progress in this area in 2008…
Breast cancer risk
As we reported, researchers at the University of Cambridge have now shown that information about low-risk genetic variations can be pooled to give an idea of a woman’s overall risk. This study highlights the potential for targeting prevention programmes such as screening women found to be at higher risk of breast cancer.
Diet and cancer
Results of research from the Cancer Research UK-supported European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) have shown that men with larger waists have a higher risk of advanced prostate cancer. Previous studies had relied on body mass index (BMI), which can be an unreliable indicator of how much fat a person is carrying.
Brain tumour risk
The Cancer Research UK Million Women Study has revealed that obesity and height are risk factors for brain tumours. By studying over 1,500 cases, the scientists found that every 10 centimetre increase in height and every 10 point increase in BMI increases the risk of brain tumours by 20 per cent.
As we reported in October, the Cancer Research UK-funded CADET II trial showed that a computer-aided detection system, plus a single radiologist, was just as effective at picking up cancers in mammograms as two doctors. This result has the potential to change clinical screening practice across Europe and improve early breast cancer detection in countries that rely on a single reader.
Breast cancer awareness
A national survey carried out by Cancer Research UK-funded scientists in London has revealed that older women have a poor knowledge of breast cancer risk factors and symptoms. These findings are important because the NHS breast cancer screening programme doesn’t invite women over 73 to attend, and breast cancer survival is worse for women in this age group. We covered this story here.
The Pill and ovarian cancer
Researchers funded by Cancer Research UK have shown that taking the contraceptive Pill gives women substantial and long-lasting protection against ovarian cancer. The team found that taking the Pill for 15 years halved the risk of ovarian cancer, and that protection against the disease could last for more than 30 years after women had stopped taking it.
Ethnicity and breast cancer
A small study by Cancer Research UK-funded scientists has found that black British women in East London are diagnosed with breast cancer an average of 21 years younger than white women, probably because of biological differences between the two ethnic groups.
As before, for the sake of length this list is by no means comprehensive. In the next post we’ll look at some of our achievements in 2008 in translational research, drug development and clinical trials.
P. D.P. Pharoah, A. C. Antoniou, D. F. Easton, B. A.J. Ponder (2008). Polygenes, Risk Prediction, and Targeted Prevention of Breast Cancer New England Journal of Medicine, 358 (26), 2796-2803 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsa0708739
T. Pischon et al (2008). Body Size and Risk of Prostate Cancer in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, 17 (11), 3252-3261 DOI: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-08-0609
V S Benson, K Pirie, J Green, D Casabonne, V Beral (2008). Lifestyle factors and primary glioma and meningioma tumours in the Million Women Study cohort British Journal of Cancer, 99 (1), 185-190 DOI: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604445
F. J. Gilbert, S. M. Astley, M. G.C. Gillan, O. F. Agbaje, M. G. Wallis, J. James, C. R.M. Boggis, S. W. Duffy (2008). Single Reading with Computer-Aided Detection for Screening Mammography New England Journal of Medicine, 359 (16), 1675-1684 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa0803545
L Linsell, C C Burgess, A J Ramirez (2008). Breast cancer awareness among older women British Journal of Cancer, 99 (8), 1221-1225 DOI: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604668
COLLABORATIVE GROUP ON EPIDEMIOLOOGY (2008). Ovarian cancer and oral contraceptives: collaborative reanalysis of data from 45 epidemiological studies including 23 257 women with ovarian cancer and 87 303 controls The Lancet, 371 (9609), 303-314 DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(08)60167-1
R L Bowen, S W Duffy, D A Ryan, I R Hart, J L Jones (2008). Early onset of breast cancer in a group of British black women British Journal of Cancer, 98 (2), 277-281 DOI: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604174