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News digest – occupation, breast cancer care, and tea and prostate cancer

by Oliver Childs | Analysis

23 June 2012

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man reading newspaper

It’s time for our round-up of the week’s headlines

It’s been relatively slow for cancer news this week, but there were still some interesting headlines:

  • Around five per cent of all cancer deaths in Britain are linked to certain occupations, especially shift work and those that involve regular exposure to asbestos or diesel engine fumes, such as construction work. That’s the conclusion of a study published on Wednesday – here’s our press release. Estimates like these help policy makers and employers develop strategies to reduce these exposures as much as possible (as we discussed last week in this post about diesel exhaust).
  • Women who have breast cancer surgery have better survival rates when decisions about their care are made by a healthcare team rather an individual doctor, according to work published this week (here’s our news story). So-called multidisciplinary teams have become the standard of care in the NHS over the last few decades. The research found that survival was 18 per cent higher in patients if decisions about their care were made by a group rather than an individual doctor.

  •  People who take up their invitations for bowel screening are more likely to have bowel cancer diagnosed at an early stage – when there is a better chance of survival – than those who wait until they have symptoms of the disease. This was the conclusion of a study presented the annual National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) conference in Birmingham this week. Medical Xpress covered the story. The research highlights the potential improvements we can make through encouraging more people to take up their screening invitation so the disease is diagnosed earlier.

 And finally…

  • There were several headlines this week claiming that men who drink large quantities of tea are more likely to develop prostate cancer. The BBC covered the story, as did the Daily Mail. Although the study suggests a weak statistical link between prostate cancer risk and drinking a lot of tea, it doesn’t say whether this is a cause-and-effect relationship, and it doesn’t explain how tea could potentially increase the risk of the disease. Until we know more, the British love affair with a nice cuppa can continue uninterrupted. If you want to know more about the limitations of the study, read this great analysis of the research on NHS Choices.