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News digest – tackling tobacco, lung cancer survival, a dancing gorilla and more

by Oliver Childs | Analysis

16 February 2013

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Lots of tobacco news this week

A lot of this week’s cancer research news focused on lung cancer and tobacco. Here’s our run-down of the week’s events.

  • World leaders must ‘take tobacco much more seriously’ in order to tackle disease like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. That was a key conclusion of a report in the Lancet this week – our news story has more detail.
  • A timely reminder that Government action is both effective and necessary: tobacco control measures in California have saved $134 billion (£86 billion) in healthcare costs. Here’s our news story.
  • Tobacco control measures work – that’s why we took the unusual and bold step of sending real cigarette packets to MPs this week (here’s our press release). We wanted to show them the slick and colourful designs on packs, which act as a silent salesman to potential new customers – many of whom are children. Read more about our rationale for sending the packs here.

  • Another reminder of the importance of tackling tobacco, and one of the week’s biggest stories: lung cancer will overtake breast cancer as the biggest killer of European women within the next two to three years, new analysis has shown. We covered the research here, while the Guardian has this take.
  • And in the week’s final lung cancer story, research showed that earlier diagnosis and better treatment are crucial to improve the UK’s survival rates, which are lagging behind other developing countries. The Daily Mail covered the work, and we looked in more detail at the key stats on the blog.
  • A genetically-engineered virus prolonged the lives of terminally ill liver cancer patients in a small clinical trial. We wrote a news story about the research, and New Scientist also has a good write up.
  • CT scans are a better alternative to colonoscopy than barium enemas when investigating bowel cancer symptoms – our press release has further detail.
  • Combining targeted treatments could increase survival for some melanoma patients, according to early-stage research at our Paterson Institute at the University of Manchester. The Daily Mirror covered our press release.
  • A promising new class of experimental drugs may need to be used very carefully, as new evidence suggests in certain circumstances they could contribute to cancer spread. Science Daily has this intriguing press release.
  • We’ve spotted a lot of buzz around the fascinating story of a teenager who has ‘developed a pancreatic cancer test’. This summary – highlighting the work’s potential and adding some much-needed balance and caution – is worth reading.
  • An Australian court has backed a claim by a biotech company to hold a patent on cancer-related mutations in a gene called BRCA1. CNN has more detail.
  • The Telegraph was one of many newspapers to report that the risk of developing breast cancer from drinking even small amounts of alcohol is “being ignored by women”. We have more information about alcohol and cancer.

And finally

  • Can you see the gorilla in this CT scan of a lung? If not, don’t fret, apparently eight in 10 radiologists (who use imaging to diagnose and treat disease like cancer) can’t either. But don’t worry – it’s because they’re so focused on looking for signs of disease, they’re extremely hard to distract. This is an example of “inattentional blindness”, a psychological phenomenon where when we’re focussed on a certain task and our brains only register a specific part of what we see.