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It’s been another busy year in cancer research. From taking important steps towards tackling the most aggressive cancers to making treatments kinder for children, these are our 5 biggest research stories from 2018.

1. A spotlight on brain tumours

Brain tumours have been hard to treat for too long, with only 1 in 7 people surviving their disease for a decade or longer. That’s why we set out to change these odds and launched our Brain Tumour Awards this year, an £18 million commitment to take on some of the greatest challenges in brain tumour research that are holding back progress. You can read about the teams who’ve been shortlisted for the awards on our website.

One of the problems with treatment for brain tumours is that it’s hard to develop drugs that reach the brain. And when they do, these drugs can cause side effects. This year, we visited our scientists in Edinburgh who are trying to find out if implanting special metal beads into the area where a tumour is removed during surgery could switch on a chemo drug to kill the tumour cells that are often left behind.

  • To learn how our Edinburgh scientists are tackling brain tumours, watch this video.

2. Reducing treatment side effects for children’s cancer

Cancer treatment can come with side effects. And when you’re a child that has a lot more growing to do, they can sometimes be life-changing. We’re aiming to make better and kinder treatments for children and young people with cancer. And the results of our SIOPEL 6 trial, announced this year, are certainly a step in the right direction. The video below explains how a drug we tested in the trial reduces hearing loss in young people who’ve been treated with chemotherapy for a certain type of liver cancer.

We also opened the Cancer Research UK Children’s Brain Tumour Centre of Excellence. This £3 million investment aims to accelerate progress in developing treatments for children and young people with brain tumours. Read this post for the details.

Tackling online misinformation

Cancer is never far from the headlines, but they don’t always tell the full story. This year we also set the record straight on worries that mobile phones cause brain tumours, looked at why claims that vaping causes cancer are wildly misleading and explained why research behind ‘simple blood test’ headlines is usually far from simple. If you’re keen to find out how to spot potential misinformation about cancer yourself, here are our 6 tips.

3. One-off prostate cancer blood test doesn’t save lives

There’s no UK screening programme for prostate cancer because the blood test that would be used, called the PSA (or prostate specific antigen) test, isn’t reliable enough. Our research, published this year, confirmed that the test doesn’t save lives when given to men without symptoms of prostate cancer as a one-off check. This post explains what the PSA test is and the latest research, with experts saying that future research can now focus on finding new ways to detect and treat the most aggressive prostate cancers early.

4. Causes of cancer updated

A landmark Cancer Research UK study, published in March, looked at the things in our lives that cause cancer and calculated how many cases in the UK are linked to each of these risk factors. It found that more than 135,000 cases of cancer could be prevented through changes such as stopping smoking, keeping a healthy weight and eating a healthy diet. This blog post has the details.

5. New insights into kidney cancer

Scientists at the Francis Crick Institute, funded by Cancer Research UK, showed that looking into a disease’s past could predict its future. They published a trio of scientific papers detailing how kidney cancers change as they develop and grow over time, singling out the ‘killers’ from the cancers that are less aggressive. This research will play a vital role in making kidney cancer treatment more personal. Our blog post explains all.

It’s your generous donations that make progress like this happen. Thank you so much for your support in 2018, we wish you all the best for the New Year.

Gabi

Comments

Emma June 5, 2019

Everything you do is wonderful but research into ovarian cancer is a must; it is still classed as a silent killer! The survival rate in over 30 years has only improved by 3%!
I have recently been diagnosed with an incurable ovarian cancer and it took for the mass in my abdomen to grow from 15cm to 35cm in 4 weeks before I was admitted in to hospital and even then I had to argue for a biopsy

Michael Parri-Hughes May 1, 2019

As well as being a supporter I am also in remission and it would be good if your mail shots could target people like me by cancer type. Ah, glad you asked Acute Myeloid Leukaemia.

Margaret Nash March 6, 2019

Thank you for all the information, my husband died of gastric cancer in December 2018. I agree with Jackie the diagnosis took months and the treatment took too long. I watched my husband go from 13stone to 9 in six weeks before it was decided he need further investigation. Things need to move faster.

Sheila Douglas March 6, 2019

Thank you for the information it really brings it home the work that’s being done in cancer research

Nick Peel January 7, 2019

Hi Keith,
Thanks for your comment.
You can find out more about research into mouth cancer and clinical trials on our website: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/mouth-cancer/research-clinical-trials.
Best wishes,
Nick, Cancer Research UK

Nick Peel January 7, 2019

Hi Helen,
Thanks for your comment.
You can read more about our research into oesophageal cancer on our website: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/our-research-by-cancer-type/our-research-into-oesophageal-cancer/current-oesophageal-cancer-research.
Best wishes,
Nick, Cancer Research UK

Helen January 6, 2019

Fantastic work you are doing. Is there any new treatment or trials for oesophageal cancer?

Keith Brawn January 6, 2019

What research are you doing on Mouth Cancer?

Patrick McGuire January 5, 2019

Wonderful to read about the world class research that CRUK is funding – making a difference and transforming lives. This is what motivates me to keep volunteering and fundraising for CRUK.

Maureen Rouse January 5, 2019

My husband died of mesothelioma which was a horrible death he went from a fit builder to a skeleton in 9 mths so keep up the good work we count on you bless you all

Jackie. January 4, 2019

Getting a quick diagnosis and treatment takes far too long in this country. You wait weeks to get an appointment with a Gp then weeks to get any tests, months to be seen by a consultant. We lag far behind other countries in our survival rates. Not good enough for the 4th or 5th richest country in the world.

Scotty December 20, 2018

I have just been diagnosed with Cancer of the Peritonuem , l had never heard of it before and it is not diagnosed early , like ovarian cancer more needs to be done to be made aware of the symptoms for Patient & GP’s .

Sullu December 18, 2018

What is the point of flouting your victories when most of the rarer cancers like LMS have had no change in medication since last 50 years? NHS has not adopted the latest immunotherapy breakthroughs (due to cost) like arotrectinib or entrectinib by the US reasearchers, whereas UK has not had much luck with any new medicines for such cancers. It is ridiculous in that UK does not even suggest to do DNA/RNA sequencing for most diseases although immunotherapy drugs are out there waiting to be adopted in the system.

Most of the research in UK remains in the print but people on the ground do not see any advantage from it while such large funds have just vanished away without seeing fruition of the research.

Please wake up to reality on the ground and make changes at the roots else these discoveries will remain in the text books while people are dying without implementation of the newer and better medicines.