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News digest – tobacco disappointment, radiotherapy revival, ‘chocolate test’ and more

by Oliver Childs | Analysis

13 July 2013

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This week’s cancer news

  • The week started on a positive note, with news that half a million lives have been saved since the 1980s thanks to cancer research (here’s our press release)…
  • …but it ended badly, with news that the government has shelved plans to introduce standardised packs for tobacco – we’re bitterly disappointed. Putting it simply, lives will be lost as a result. The BBC has more detail, and you can read our full response here.
  • In other tobacco-related news, smokers who cut down – but do not give up – are unlikely to reduce their chances of dying prematurely, a Scottish study confirmed this week. Our news story has more info.
  • Thanks to a new £23 million fund, around 5,800 more cancer patients a year will now benefit from new, state-of-the-art forms of radiotherapy. Our press release and this blog post have more info.

  • A major new UK project to map the genetic causes of disease will initially focus on cancer, rare diseases and infectious diseases. Here’s our news story.
  • Cancer Research UK scientists found new treatment targets for lung cancer, a disease for which new drugs are desperately needed. Read our press release.
  • We’re continuing to keep an eye out for articles about the recent US Supreme Court ruling on gene patenting. This Scientific American article is an excellent analysis of what the decision means for research and genetic testing.
  • Several papers covered a study showing that omega-3 supplements ‘could raise prostate cancer risk’. But – as we said in this Telegraph article – the evidence as to whether omega-3 fats affect prostate cancer risk is mixed and unfortunately this study doesn’t resolve the debate. NHS Choices had a good analysis of the study too.
  • The BBC and the Mail both wrote about a test that can ‘smell’ bladder cancer before symptoms appear. It’s certainly interesting research, but a lot more work is needed for any such test to become reliable enough for wider use.
  • Boing Boing magazine published an excellent piece looking at how the human papillomavirus, HPV – most commonly thought of as linked to cervical cancer – poses a threat to men as well as women.
  • Intriguing research from Italy, reported here in the Telegraph, found lower rates of cancer in people with Alzheimers disease.
  • This article in BBC’s Scrubbing Up looked at how advances in imaging – and their positive impact on cancer care – don’t get the attention they deserve

And finally