Whats out there on the web?

What's out there on the web?

It’s time for a round-up of interesting stories we’ve seen on the web over the past couple of months.

From number crunching to personal stories
We start with a thorough and hard-hitting behind-the-scenes look at NICE, the drug approval process, and the cost of cancer drugs to the NHS, by Adam Wishart. It’s an excellent read, but certainly raises a lot of tough questions.

Throughout the piece, Wishart weaves in the tale of Julia, a myeloma patient, and her quest for the drug lenalidomide.  Personal stories of cancer are incredibly moving, as you can see from our new TV ad, and they help to remind us why our work is so important.

Earlier this month, Channel 4 broadcast an emotional documentary featuring the stories of three teenagers undergoing treatment for cancer. You can watch it again through 4OD.

Breast screening confusion
The recent story about the risk of over-treatment of breast cancers following mammography highlights the need for better information for women who are invited for screening.  But are media messages about the ‘dangers’ of screening doing more harm than good?

To clear up some of the confusion, BBC Radio 4’s Today programme hosted a fascinating discussion with three researchers in the field.

The cure for cancer! (or not)
The headlines trumpeted the “Ultrasound cancer cure” , while the BBC ran with the more measured “Sound waves offer prostate hope” – but what was the story about?

These were reports of results of a trial of high frequency ultrasound from scientists at UCL, published in the British Journal of Cancer.   NHS Choices comes to the rescue, with a detailed discussion of the trial and its findings, and what it might mean for men with early-stage (non-invasive) prostate cancer.

As an aside, at the same time this story broke, the Cancer Research UK bloggers were at the World Conference of Science Journalists (in a variety of off-duty capacities), discussing how the difficulties of reporting on cancer and balancing hope against hype. It was generally agreed that although much of the reporting about cancer is responsible and informative, headlines shouting about “cures” are less than helpful.

From the White House to the workplace
Across the pond, the American Cancer Society’s Dr Len Lichtenfeld continues to write insightful posts about the state of healthcare and cancer research in the US, and the rest of the world.

The US healthcare system is very different from our own here in the UK, and presents a number of challenges when it comes to providing cancer care.  But at least there is someone at the top who really seems to care. Dr Len describes President Obama’s visit to the American Medical Association, where he talked about the loss of his mother to cancer.  Later, Dr Len also heard Obama speak on healthcare reform at the White House.

But it’s not all high politics and glamour – beating cancer starts much closer to home. Dr Len reports on a conference about building a healthy culture in the workplace, showcasing ideas such as placing food choices under the control of the medical department. A controversial decision, but one that could make it a lot easier for people to make healthy choices about their diet.

From the lab
The June and July cancer research blog carnivals are up on Bayblab.  The June edition covers tumours suppressors, SNP studies, systems biology, and why we’ll never have a “cure for cancer”, among other topics.

July’s carnival includes a primer on radiotherapy, an overview of cancer stem cells, and a discussion of Farrah Fawcett’s recent death from cancer.

Obesity, carrots and cancer
The NHS Choices blog has been tackling the subject of obesity – the major preventable cause of cancer after smoking.  For those looking for drastic measures, they analyse the research showing that gastric band surgery may cut cancer risk.

As a less (or possibly more) drastic alternative, you could simply avoid ever getting married or at least blame your beer belly on your genes.

Other recent posts on NHS Choices include a detailed explanation of recent results from the Cancer Research UK-funded EPIC study, showing that vegetarians are less likely to get certain cancers than omnivores,  and an analysis of a small trial investigating whether a chemical in green tea can slow prostate cancer growth.

And finally, could the key to cancer prevention lie in how you chop your carrots?  Based on a very small and speculative unpublished study, presented at a conference last month, the answer is probably no – although it might help to improve their taste.

If you’ve seen any interesting cancer-related stories of blogs on the web recently, please share them in the comments below.


Cancer Research UK is not responsible for the content of external websites. Our CancerHelp UK website has a useful guide to finding reliable information on the internet.