Together we will beat cancer

Tabloids on a news stand

Some fascinating research hit the headlines

This was a big week for cancer in the news. If you missed the headlines, you can catch up now by clicking on the links to significant stories below:

  •  A landmark study we funded has shown how 4 in 10 cancers are linked to our lifestyles and environment. Obviously, this still leaves a large proportion for which there is no lifestyle link, but we hope this information will help people realise that there are things they could do today that might help them avoid cancer later in life. We wrote more about the study on the blog.
  • Scientists in the US moved a crucial step closer to finding a way to switch off the activity of a key cancer gene called Myc. Although a treatment for patients isn’t on the cards just yet, this work is significant, as researchers have been trying to develop ways to block Myc for decades.
  • In another early but significant stride towards a potential new cancer drug, US scientists have found a way to stick small molecular fragments to a major cancer-associated protein called Ras. This protein is hyperactive in around one-quarter of all cancers, so although only a small step, as we said in our post about the news, “it’s in many ways as important as the first step of an infant”.
  • Cancer Research UK scientists have discovered that cancer cells can ‘bag up and bin’ a toxic protein to cheat death – revealing a new Achilles heel in cancer cells that could be targeted for treatment.
  • A large and comprehensive study confirmed that more widespread use of chemotherapy to treat breast cancer after surgery has had a major impact on saving lives. Overall, the study found that chemo after breast cancer surgery cuts deaths by one-third.
  • Hopes of new treatment for women with HER2-positive breast cancer were buoyed by news of positive results with the experimental drug pertuzumab.
  • Scientists we’re funding at The Institute of Cancer Research discovered how to beat resistance to a standard leukaemia drug. The work reveals a potential approach to treat chronic myeloid leukaemia after it has become resistant to current treatments.
  • An encouraging report found that England’s Bowel Cancer Screening Programme, which was introduced in 2006, has so far been effective at detecting bowel cancers at an early stage. This is important, as the earlier cancer is detected, the more likely it can be treated effectively. There’s more info about bowel screening, how it works and who’s eligible, on our main website
  • And finally, Prime Minister David Cameron presented the Government’s strategy for life sciences this week. We discussed what some of the plans could mean for cancer patients on the blog, and in a subsequent post, looked back at how we’d helped campaign for this policy.

Please do post your thoughts on the week’s news below, and we’ll be back next week with another round of must-read cancer stories.



sarah symmons December 12, 2011

while I appreciate the splendid support given to research by cancer research, I deplore the latest news about 40% of cancers being the fault of the patients. This kind of longitudinal research contributes to our blame culture. Researchers who need to give their research high profile appeal in order to fulfill the government’s demand for ‘impact’ in research and thus qualify for continued funding, are I think, foregrounding this kind of attitude which must inevitably affect cancer victims adversely. It must be awful to have this fearsome disease and feel that it is your fault, when so much of the disease probably isn’t. I think that it is time that long term statistical research of this kind was scrutinised far more strictly and the results made less of in the press.