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News digest – breast cancer radiotherapy, fluorescent fish, DIY sunscreen and more

by Nick Peel | Analysis

26 July 2014

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  • A new advanced radiotherapy technique received a huge amount of media attention this week following initial NHS approval for the single dose treatment in breast cancer patients. But as articles from the BBC, Mail Online the Telegraph, the Guardian and our news feed point out, patients will need long-term follow up to make sure the treatment is as effective as standard therapy.
  • And a breast cancer patient undergoing radiotherapy treatment gave this personal take on the announcement.
  • A team of our scientists from Manchester found that different types of melanoma cells may work together to spread around the body. Our bloggers wrote this for the Guardian (which also appears here), here’s the press release, or you can watch a video exploring the research below.

  • Our researchers mapped the shape of a complex protein involved in cancer, providing vital information about how it works, and how to target it. News Medical and Medical News Today have more, and our spokesperson went on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme to discuss the finding in more detail (51mins in). The ICR’s press release has a 3D video of the protein too.
  • A large collaborative US research project found that stomach cancer exists in four distinct types. Read our news story for more details.
  • Cannabinoids – the chemicals found in cannabis – received further attention this week following a personal story in the Mail Online. As the article points out, and as we make clear in this blog post, research so far on these chemicals has only been carried out on cells grown in the lab or in mice and evidence from reliable clinical trials is still lacking.
  • Smoking rates in school children in 2013 are considerably lower than 10 years ago, according to figures from Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). The BBC and Mail Online have more and here’s the HSCIC press release.
  • Early research in rats found that exposure to dim light may cause some breast cancers to become resistant to treatment. The BBC and the Telegraph covered this, but the findings haven’t been confirmed in people so more research is needed on this one.
  • The Institute of Cancer Research’s blog took a look at the fascinating phenomenon of babies who cure themselves of cancer.
  • The Medical Research Council’s Insight blog discussed the benefits of ‘multi-armed’ clinical trials.
  • WedMD had this article on two cancer drugs – one for prostate cancer and one for skin cancer – that received approval from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
  • In more early stage research, scientists found that an anti-malarial drug could prevent liver cancer in mice and rats. The Telegraph has more on this, but once again, further research is needed before trials in people with liver cancer can be considered.
  • A study published in the British Journal of Cancer found that children, teenagers and young adults living near Sellafield or Dounreay nuclear power plants since the 90s are not at increased risk of cancer. Read the press release for more info.

And finally

  • The sun might have been shining down on you this week, but this worrying report from the Mail Online about DIY sunscreen put a serious damper on our summer spirit. The Mail’s article does a great job of highlighting why mixing your own sunscreen is a bad idea, so give it a read, especially if the sun’s out this weekend.