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News digest – men’s cancer toll, UK’s stiff upper lip, teen sunbed use, and more

by Oliver Childs | Analysis

2 February 2013

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Tabloids on a news stand

Its time for our weekly news digest

  • Men are over 35 per cent more likely to die from cancer than women in the UK, according to a new report we released this week. This may be partly down to biological differences between men and women. But lifestyle factors, particularly past differences in smoking behaviour between the sexes, also contribute. The Guardian and NHS Choices both have more detail.
  • In potentially related news, research showed that the UK’s “stiff upper lip” culture and associated fear of wasting our GP’s time may be one reason why we have lower cancer survival rates than the best -performing countries. The BBC covered the story, and we discussed this and other ongoing research to understand the differences in cancer survival on the blog.
  • We enjoyed this Manchester Evening News article about the era of personalised medicine by our chief scientist Professor Nic Jones.

  • Personalised medicine continues to be a hot topic, and we also liked this blog post about the key technological and medical advances needed for the vision of personalised medicine to hold true.
  • In associated news, The Institute of Cancer Research in London announced a new £3 million Tumour Profiling Unit. Here’s our news story. This is a great example of the movement towards personalised medicine. For those interested in Cancer Research UK’s work in this area, our Catalyst Club pages have more information.
  • The desire for a tan is making teenage girls ignore the dangers of sunbed use. Here’s our press release.
  • Access to radiotherapy varies dramatically across Europe, and some countries – including the UK – have too few radiotherapy machines. Here’s our news story.
  • US scientists took a step forward in understanding how beta blockers may slow the spread of cancer. The research – discussed in more detail in our news story – adds to growing evidence that beta blockers could one day be used to help treat certain cancers.
  • A charity called for school boys in the UK to receive the HPV vaccination to protect against throat cancer. The BBC has more information.
  • Research this week suggested that lumpectomy for women with early stage breast cancer offers survival odds as good as (or perhaps better than) full mastectomies. We think this Reuters article provides a balanced overview of the research. The type of surgery women are offered depends on several things like the size of the tumour and breast and whether the cancer has spread, and surgeons will discuss the available options with their patients.

And finally

  • Talking of breast cancer, we thought this was a well-considered piece in the Telegraph about the challenging decisions many women face when it comes to prevention and treatment of the disease. We wholeheartedly agree that sometimes “medicine doesn’t have the clear, definitive answers that we crave”. But history shows that research will help address today’s unanswered questions.