HPV vaccine reduces cervical cancer risk 

Long-awaited study results from Sweden released this week show for the first time, the impact of the vaccine on cervical cancer. Rates of cervical cancer were 88% lower in women vaccinated before the age of 17 with the HPV vaccine – and 63% lower in the vaccinated cohort overall. Our news report has more.

HPV vaccination has been shown previously to prevent infection with the virus and the development of precancer. Although scientists were confident that it would follow that HPV vaccination would prevent cervical cancer, this is the first time that that has been shown directly.

– Professor Peter Sasieni, a Cancer Research UK-funded cervical screening expert at King’s College London 

Promising prostate cancer treatment results 

A leading cancer charity has “hailed a breakthrough” in treating prostate cancer, after results from 2 drug trials were announced at a conference. Olaparib improved survival for some men whose advanced prostate cancer has specific DNA errors, while adding ipatasertib to existing treatments also showed promising early signs in a second clinical trial. Meanwhile, new research suggests some men with prostate cancer could be spared radiotherapy after surgery for the disease – full story here in the Daily Mail, Sky News and The Times(£). 

New treatment ‘cuts risk of breast cancer return’ 

More promising trial results, as adding the targeted drug abemaciclib to hormone therapy was found to cut breast cancer recurrence by 25% in interim analysis published last week. As reported in the Evening Standard, the trial involved in people with early hormone receptor positive breast cancer and tested the benefits of giving the targeted drug after standard treatments like chemotherapy, surgery and/or radiotherapy, to reduce the risk of the cancer returning 

Almost a million breast screenings missed during pandemic 

Charity Breast Cancer Now has revealed that the coronavirus pandemic is responsible for as many as 986,000 women in the UK missing breast screening appointments, as screening services were put on pause. Get the full story at Sky News and you can read more about how the pandemic impact cancer services in our blog post.

“Cancer services were struggling before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and now, after months of screening backlogs and with the added pressure that winter puts on the NHS, frontline workers are simply overstretched.

“You shouldn’t wait for a screening invite if you’ve noticed anything unusual for you, it’s important to contact your GP and they will make sure you can be checked out safely. For those who have had difficulty trying to get an appointment, we understand that it might be frustrating, but we encourage you to keep trying.”

– Dr Rachel Orritt, Cancer Research UK’s health information manager

20,000 more cancer cases a year in the most deprived areas 

New figures released this week suggest there are around 20,000 extra cancer cases every year in the UK’s most deprived areas – exposing once again the inequalities running through our society. Our latest blog post takes a deeper look at this unacceptable reality. 

Is cancer the next tech boom sector? 

In the week following US biotech giant Illumina’s £6.2 billion buyout of Grail, investors are pouring billions into the cancer detection sector. Read the full story in The Times (£). 

UK’s medical research charities need ‘urgent support’  

Iain Foulkes, executive director of research and innovation at Cancer Research UK has stressed the critical importance of Government action – after new figures from the National Cancer Research Institute projected a devastating 24% drop in the country’s overall cancer research spend in 2020. In his latest blog post, Foulkes notes that much-needed progress in cancer and other diseases is at risk. 

And finally… 

Our latest Science Surgeryanswers the question: how does cancer in children and adults differ? And if you’re looking for something to read over the weekend, check out our blog post following 3 of the team of over 60 scientists investigating the age-old mystery of inflammation and cancer. 

Jake Richards is a writer for PA Media Group