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News digest – rise in cancer cases, cervical screening, ‘genetic reshuffling’ and more

by Nick Peel | Analysis

18 January 2014

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  • A third of a million people are now diagnosed with cancer every year, according to our latest figures. This equates to an increase of nearly 50,000 diagnoses over the last 10 years, but thanks to research more people are surviving cancer than ever before. The BBC was among the many media outlets covering the announcement.
  • Our researchers found that women who don’t have cervical screening over the age of 50 are six times more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer later in life. See coverage from the BBC and The Guardian for more info.
  • And in more cervical screening news, women who have been found to carry abnormal cells in their cervix are also at a greater risk of developing cervical cancer in later life. The Guardian covered the research, which highlights the importance of monitoring women who’ve had abnormal cells in their cervix.
  • A form of ‘genetic reshuffling’ that helps the immune system fight off diverse infections could be the driving force behind the most common form of childhood leukaemia. The BBC and our news story have more info.
  • The way the NHS shares information from GP records is changing, with a new system to support research that could benefit patients in the future. The Telegraph covered the changes, which coincide with a campaign to highlight the important role of patient records in research. We took an in depth look at the choices patients face in light of the changes.
  • An advanced form of radiotherapy known to reduce side effects in patients being treated for head and neck cancer could also provide survival benefits over conventional radiotherapy treatment. See our news story for more details.
  • Standardised tobacco packaging sparked a 78 per cent increase in calls to an Australian stop-smoking helpline just one month after its introduction. The Guardian and our news story have more info.
  • And Public Health England outlined its support for the introduction of standardised tobacco packaging in the UK with a submission to the government’s independent review on the measure. The Independent has more info.
  • Breast cancer patients in Scotland who are offered the drug Herceptin could receive their treatment by injection rather than a drip following the approval of this method by the Scottish Medicines Consortium. The BBC coverage showed how Scottish patients will get a quicker and less intrusive treatment option.
  • This interesting article from the journal Nature covered research into how the evolutionary origins of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori could account for variations in stomach cancer cases in different parts of the world.
  • We found this blog article from the PLOS network about the challenges Kenya faces in cancer control and care particularly interesting.

And finally

  • We were concerned to see overblown headlines claiming research into the cancer-resistant blind mole rat could provide a “cure for all cancers”. The research is intriguing, but it’s far too early to make these claims. We responded on the blog to temper the over hyped coverage.