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News digest – inequalities, Wikipedia, low-cal diets and more

by Henry Scowcroft | Analysis

31 May 2014

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  • For the first time since they were introduced, the NHS missed its targets for cancer treatment waiting times – deeply concerning news. We covered the story, as did the BBC.
  • We released new figures showing the stark toll of social inequality on cancer rates around England – 19,000 extra deaths each year. The mainstream media were strangely reticent to cover the story, but here’s our in-depth blog post, along with an animation explaining what’s going on:


  • Several news outlets, including the BBC, the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph, covered research on the reliability of Wikipedia’s medical content. Our Wikipedian in Residence blogged about the research, and how we’re trying to improve things.
  • In partnership with the Guardian, we launched a series of articles about lung cancer. First up was this excellent animation – “7 things you didn’t know about lung cancer”.
  • Our researchers discovered how pancreatic cancer cells break down the drug gemcitabine – a finding that suggests a way to make the drug more effective against this challenging disease. Here’s our press release.
  • Bowel Cancer UK called for a relaxation in the criteria that allow GPs to refer people with suspected bowel cancer for further tests. Here’s our news report.
  • And in a related story, the Daily Telegraph covered research into how Danish GPs’ ‘gut feeling’  can be as accurate as so-called ‘red flag’ symptoms in detecting cancer.
  • Early US research in mice suggested that a ‘restricted calorie’ diet might help prevent breast cancer cells from spreading – something that’s far from confirmed at this stage. The Huffington Post, Scotsman, The Independent and the Daily Mail all covered the story.
  • The BBC covered this announcement by a Bristol hospital of a new trial for childhood neuroblastoma.
  • With the ASCO annual meeting – the world’s biggest cancer research conference – taking place this weekend, the excitement continued to build around trials several new experimental treatments. Reuters ran a nice piece looking at what’s in the pipeline.
  • The Daily Mail had a piece about the potential downsides of antioxidant supplements – something we’ve been pointing out for years.
  • Not for the squeamish, the Daily Telegraph covered a story about a surgeon who used Google Glass to stream a cancer operation live online, while taking questions from the audience.
  • And another grizzly video, this time in the Daily Mail, looked at the effects of smoking on your lungs.
  • Nature published a special supplement looking at the state of play in cancer research.
  • We covered news that a group of researchers had written to the World Health Organisation, cautioning them not to over-regulate e-cigarettes.
  • Jonathan Dimbleby spoke to The Independent about how the social taboos around cancer have changed since his father was diagnosed with cancer in 1965.

And finally…