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News digest – skirt size, early diagnosis, smoking graphics and more

by Henry Scowcroft | Analysis

27 September 2014

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A denim skirt
Can skirt size predict breast cancer risk?
  • Could changes in a woman’s skirt size be used to predict her risk of breast cancer? One of the week’s biggest stories made all the major news outlets (here’s the BBC’s take) but comes with some large caveats, as the NHS Choices website and Health News Review both pointed out.
  • Another big story this week looked at the economic benefits of diagnosing cancer early, after we published a report and some new statistics. Here’s the Guardian and Daily Telegraph’s coverage (which focused largely on the stats), and our guest post from the report’s author.
  • More on early diagnosis: research in the British Journal of Cancer (press release) found that bowel cancer patients seem to do better if they’re diagnosed through screening, no matter what stage they’re diagnosed at. GP Online covered the story.
  • The annual National Cancer Patient Experience Survey came out – we blogged about its findings.
  • The Guardian and BBC covered a call by the Royal Society for Public Health to vaccinate boys against the cancer-causing HPV virus.
  • At the Labour Party Conference, Ed Miliband announced plans to fund the NHS partly through a tax on tobacco companies, should his party be elected to govern next year. Here’s the BBC’s take.
  • We announced a new partnership with drug developers MedImmune, to speed up research on so-called ‘biological’ therapies – treatments made out of biological molecules. Here’s our press release, along with PharmaTimes’s coverage.
  • Writing in The Conversation, two of our Southampton-based researchers discussed the role the immune system plays in diagnosing and treating tumours.
  • And on a related note, our researchers in Manchester suggested that dampening down the immune system with existing drugs might improve melanoma treatment. Medical Daily covered our press release.
  • The Office of National Statistics published some great new infographics to support the Department of Health’s annual #Stoptober quit smoking campaign.
  • The Guardian took a look at womb cancer – “the most common diagnosis you’ve never heard of”.
  • Researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research made an intriguing discovery about breast cancer genes, according to eCancerNews.
  • We liked this: a video from TED:Ed that answers the fascinating question: “Where do genes come from?” (watch it on YouTube if the embed below doesn’t work)

And finally…

  • Another week, another overblown ‘simple blood test’ story. As the Huffington Post reports, researchers studying GP records showed that people who were diagnosed with hypercalcaemia – raised blood levels of calcium – were slightly more likely to go on to be diagnosed with cancer, compared to people with normal calcium levels. An interesting finding, and certainly fuel for further research… but a long way off from being a ‘simple’ test.