• October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and there were several news stories about the disease in the media this week. First up, could a simple blood test be used to detect early breast cancer, rather than mammograms? Our researchers are running a trial that they hope could lead to such a test. The Telegraph has more information, and Professor Charles Coombes describes the research in this video:

  • On Wednesday, French research suggested that analysing the entire DNA ‘genome’ of breast cancer patients’ tumours could help select the best treatment. This didn’t get much pick up in the media, but we think it shows that routine whole-genome tests are on the horizon, and could help guide clinical trial design and treatment decisions in the future. Read our news story for more detail.
  • The Daily Mail had this story about an experimental treatment for women with HER2-positive breast cancer, called T-DM1. We wrote about this drug after it created a bit of a buzz at an American cancer conference earlier this year. The new results are promising, but we need to see how overall survival rates and quality of life data develop long-term, when the results from the full study are analysed and published.

  • Survival rates for women with ovarian cancer are lower in the UK than in other comparable countries. But why? A Department of Health-funded study, published this week, suggests it’s due to low survival rates among those diagnosed with more advanced stages of the disease. The UK seemed to be better at diagnosing the disease early than other countries – something unexpected, but reassuring. The report was covered in the Guardian, and our bloggers summarised the main findings here.
  • A protein called Myc, commonly found at high levels inside cancer cells, fuels the disease by allowing cells to override their in-built self-destruct mechanisms, according to two new studies by US scientists this week. Here’s our news story. Myc has long been thought of as a ‘key driver’ of cancer, and this work – which likens Myc to a ‘cancer’s volume control’ – could help shape future research to block the molecule to treat the disease.
  • The case against sunbeds got even stronger this week, with confirmation that sunbed users increase their risk not just of melanoma skin cancer, but of far more common types too. The study hammers home the message that sunbeds are not a safe alternative to sunbathing. Here’s the Daily Mail’s take.
  • In mice, bacteria can trigger inflammation in developing bowel tumours, which then drives the growth of the cancer, according to US research published on Thursday. We covered this preliminary but interesting work on our news feed.
  • The Government has recommended that all suitable patients should be offered sophisticated ‘image guided’ radiotherapy, or IGRT. Radiotherapy helps cure more cancers than cancer drugs, so we welcome anything that improves the treatment. There’s more information in our news article, and we will be publishing a blog article about the new guidance in the coming weeks.
  • We spotted this interesting article in The Guardian on Thursday about widespread unease around the proposed cut to the number of UK cancer networks as part of the NHS restructure. We’re part of the group of charities who have voiced their concerns over the changes, and we will continue to work hard to ensure that cancer patients are provided with the best possible care in the reformed NHS. We’ve written before about what we think the new NHS Commissioning Board should focus on – and you can expect more from us in the run up to the launch of the new NHS in April next year.
  • We were pleased to hear this week that Cancer Research UK’s Professor Jack Cuzick has won a major international award for his research. The AACR-Prevent Cancer Foundation Award for Excellence in Cancer Prevention Research is given for “seminal contributions to the field of cancer prevention”. If you want to know more about Jack’s work, a good place to start would be this interview.

And finally

  • Over 2,000 leading childhood cancer specialists from across the globe are coming to London this weekend for a major conference. A new ‘treatment alliance’ will be discussed at the conference. It will bring together researchers, pharmaceutical companies, regulatory authorities and patients and their parents. There’s more information in our press release, and we hope to report on what the conference covered in the next couple of weeks.