Hot off the press… our news digest

There’s been another glut of fascinating stories this week, most of which focused on aspects of the NHS. Here’s our digest – follow the links for the full story:

  • On Monday, we announced that we’d enrolled the first patients into our Stratified Medicine Programme – which aims to help the NHS establish a world-class genetic testing service, while simultaneously generating data for research. As well as our press release, we published full details, including a map, a list of genes to be tested, and a video explaining the programme, on this blog.
  • Tuesday’s news was dominated by a story that showed cancer patients were living much longer than in the 1970s. But the report didn’t find improvements across the board. Some types of cancer have seen dramatic improvements, while others have barely changed – further highlighting how much more work we still have to do
  • As we said above, several stories this week focused on NHS cancer care. The first was an investigation by GP newspaper which found – alarmingly – that several NHS trusts aren’t prescribing cancer drugs that NICE has approved. If this turns out to be the case, it’s extremely concerning, and we’ll be keeping an eye on how this story progresses.
  • We posted a piece about the Government’s NHS reforms and what could mean for people with cancer – a topic that’s generating a lot of media interest at the moment.
  • Researchers at our Beatson Institute in Glasgow, leading an international team of scientists, made an intriguing discovery about how melanoma spreads
  • On Friday, research by the Royal College of GPs looked at how long people had to wait before seeing a cancer specialist. Overall, they found that nearly three quarters of patients only saw a GP once or twice before being referred.
  • Also on Friday, the Department of Health announced it had decided to switch the HPV vaccine it uses to one that protects against virus strains that cause both genital warts and cervical cancer (the previous vaccine only protected against the strains that cause cancer). Here’s their press release.
  • We discussed how we were concerns about media reports of people fundraising for an unproven US cancer clinic.
  • And finally, results of a decade-long French trial showed that some younger patients with an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, known as ‘diffuse B-cell’ lymphoma, might benefit from more intensive chemotherapy than normal. The big caveat here is that the side effects are consequently more severe, so doctors will need to carefully select who will benefit.

Cancer research is constantly moving forward – we’ve already spotted several interesting stories for the week ahead, so keep your eyes peeled, and see you next week.