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News digest – elderly cancer patients, ovarian cancer, victory over tobacco, and more

by Oliver Childs | Analysis

22 September 2012

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Catch up on the cancer news

  • The biggest story of the week broke yesterday, with news that nearly one in three cancers in older people are diagnosed through an emergency admission to hospital (here’s the press release). The BBC and The Guardian both have interesting stories about the report, and you can watch our director of information talk about what we think on Sky News. For more in-depth analysis, check out our blog article too.
  • On a related note, a Cancer Research UK survey published this week highlights the importance of encouraging people not to delay seeing their GP. According to the report, almost one in three people in the UK say that if they had an unusual or persistent change to their body, thinking it would go away in its own time would stop them from visiting their GP. Here’s our press release, and here’s how the Channel 4 News and The Independent covered the story.
  • Cancer Research UK researchers at The University of Dundee found a gene that helps predict which women with ovarian cancer will benefit most from chemotherapy. Our press release has more info, and the BBC covered the story.

  • An Oslo court has backed the Norwegian government’s right to introduce laws banning the visible display of tobacco products in stores. This is great news, and a decisive defeat for the tobacco companies’ claims that policies to cut smoking are illegal. For more reaction to the decision, read our news story.
  • The Telegraph had an interesting piece about a potential breast cancer drug called everolimus. While results so far with this drug are encouraging, we don’t yet know if it helps women with advanced breast cancer to live longer. The evidence so far shows that it can help to slow the progress of advanced breast cancer for around four months in the 10 per cent of women who responded to it. But, as the Telegraph article points out, like all drugs, everolimus is not without  its downsides – about one in five women in trials gave up the treatment because of significant side effects.
  • The Daily Mail got excited with the following headline: ‘High fat diet may increase breast cancer risk in later life’. While based on some perfectly sound science, the research doesn’t actually tell us anything about how diet affects breast cancer risk in humans because it was carried out in mice. Decades of research has shown that the best ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer are to keep a healthy weight, be physically active, and to cut down on alcohol.
  • Our policy team wrote this interesting blog post about how we’re working with the European government to try to cut down the red tape and paperwork imposed on researchers running clinical trials 
  • The UK government announced a change to how unemployed cancer patients are able to receive benefits. In future, people who are receiving treatment or recovering from any form of chemotherapy or radiotherapy for their cancer will be placed in the Support Group for Employment and Support Allowance, meaning that many more patients will be eligible. The Telegraph covered the story.

And finally

  • This Huffington Post article about an early-stage study using a cannabis extract to treat cancer caused a lot of discussion on our Facebook page. While it’s an interesting laboratory study, it’s one of thousands of similar papers published every year, in which researchers describe how chemicals found in plants or animals affect the growth of cancer cells in the lab. It will be interesting to see where it leads, but there’s a long, uncertain road ahead. For a summary of the latest evidence on cannabis and cancer, read our comprehensive blog post.