Lots of cancer-related stories in the news this week

As ever, we’ve trawled the web for the week’s most interesting and important cancer research news.

Click on the links for further information on any of the stories that catch your eye.

  • Public smoking bans may also encourage smokers to light up less often at home, according to new European research. These results challenge the argument commonly put forward by opponents of smoke-free legislation that such bans could encourage more smoking at home.
  • Cancer Research UK scientists found a better way to take images of ovarian tumours to track how women respond to their treatment. At the moment, doctors tend to use CT scans, but this new study suggests that ‘diffusion-weighted MRI’ is better. We’re now helping with a larger nationwide study to see if this type of imaging is an effective way to predict treatment response.
  • Doctors and nurses may be underestimating the value that cancer patients place on internet information, and so miss opportunities to discuss these materials with them, according to a new study. Only small proportion of health professionals routinely point their patients in the direction of information online, despite most patients using the Internet to find out more about their disease. Here’s the press release we put out, and a blog post looking at what we already do to provide accurate online cancer information.
  • We also spotted this interesting article from the Guardian about how social media can help nurses communicate with the public.
  • Leading breast cancer experts called for women under 50 with triple-negative breast cancer to be offered testing for faults in the BRCA1 gene. NHS guidelines mean that not all of these women are tested at the moment, and the researchers believe changing this system could lead to an extra 1,200 tests each year. They say that although this will increase costs, it will be worthwhile, as women found to have a faulty BRCA gene will be given better-tailored treatments, and their families offered targeted screening.
  • In other breast cancer news, research we funded showed that cognitive behavioural therapy can help women treated for the disease to manage the common side-effects of hot flushes and night sweats.
  • Faults in gene called DIS3L2 are linked to an increased risk of Wilms’ tumour – a form of childhood kidney cancer, according to research published on Thursday. The work could lead to a better understanding of the disease, and potentially new ways to detect and treat it.
  • We also spotted this excellent blog post on Thursday, which neatly explains the problems and complexity of lung cancer screening (and screening more generally).
  • And finally, we had to draw your attention to this – ‘Fatal devil cancer genome sequenced’. Not only a great headline, but a fascinating story about how scientists in Cambridge have pieced together the DNA sequence of a fatal cancer sweeping through a population of carnivorous marsupials called Tasmanian devils. The BBC also covered the story.